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Leader of South Ayrshire Council - Christmas message

Leader of South Ayrshire Council Christmas 400 x 400

It's nearly the end of another year and the perfect opportunity for us all to reflect on the past 12 months, as well as looking to the future.

Christmas is well and truly here, and it was great to see so many people enjoying the Festive Family Fun Day at the Cutty-Sark Centre. The centre which officially opened back in May, is already becoming a firm favourite for events.

One of the most important events of 2023, was the Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla which took place on 6 May. It was also a chance to remember Queen Elizabeth II and her extraordinary reign.

2024 promises to be a massive year for events across South Ayrshire. The International Ayr Show - Festival of Flight will run from Friday 6 - Saturday 7 September. Last year, around 240,000 spectators saw some of the best flying displays in the world, and all for free. We're going to make a few important tweaks to build on this success for next year.

I am delighted that The Open is back at Royal Troon. Hundreds of thousands of spectators will be in South Ayrshire from 14-21 July. This is also the perfect opportunity to showcase all that we have to offer to a global audience of millions.

Firm favourites the Holy Fair and Tamfest will be back for 2024 and the Low Green will be the place to be in May with the return of the Pavilion Festival.

As more people come here for holidays and events, we need to ensure that our towns are looking their best and we have the amenities that people want. We're spending £1m in each of the eight wards over the next four years to help do exactly that.

We are also planning to transform Ayr Esplanade. Each year, thousands of people visit the beach for fun and relaxation. We want to boost amenities, activities and encourage people to spend more time at one of the best beaches Scotland has to offer.

The Citadel Leisure Centre is also set to be revamped and I am looking forward to bringing the facility bang up to date to offer a multitude of sports and activities.

Supporting local businesses particularly at this time of year is crucial, we have fantastic retailers, so remember to shop local this Christmas. Don't forget lots of businesses also support the Scotland Loves Local South Ayrshire gift card scheme.

In Ayr we're still dealing with the dangerous building at the railway station, but we're well on the way to making it safe and getting transport back to normal. We've also ensured that businesses affected by the closures are financially supported, but we can all help by shopping in the town centre - Ayr is Open for Business!

In the long term we have plans to improve the southern gateway into the town and we will be spending millions creating exciting new spaces where people can spend time and relax, as well as reconfiguring the flow of traffic.

We continue to invest in education as we look to boost attainment and provide children and young people with great opportunities.

The brand-new Prestwick North Education Campus picked up a top award at the Learning Places Scotland Awards 2023. The campus won the prestigious 'Pupil/Student Experience' Award, which recognises the standout learning spaces.

The £60m Maybole Community Campus also opened its doors to pupils and the new two-storey Sacred Heart Primary School was also finished in 2023.

Our affordable housing build programme will also make a difference. The housing development at Mainholm in Ayr is one of the biggest housing programmes in Scotland with over 160 homes. We're also building 75 new homes at the riverside development in the heart of Ayr.

It has been a long year with many ups and downs, and I would like to thank Council staff for all their hard work and dedication throughout 2023. I wish former Chief Executive Eileen Howat all the best for the future, and I am working closely with our new Chief Executive, Mike Newall.

It's easy to forget that not everyone can take a break over the festive season, so I would also like to recognise all those that keep vital services operating throughout the year.

Finally, I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!