2018 has been a year of major change for the Council with our priorities to deliver first class public services measured against a continued challenging economic backdrop. It was the year that we made significant changes to the way the Council runs, with our management review streamlining services, to help cut down on bureaucracy and free up our staff to enhance the way they work to deliver improvements to our communities.
Importantly, we now operate with a primary focus on our people and places and there are already clear signs of positive progress.
For the economy, work to secure the £300million Ayrshire Growth Deal with the UK and Scottish Governments is well underway and we're hoping for a firm commitment will soon be made to unlock Ayrshire's potential alongside partners at East and North Ayrshire Councils. Watch this space.
We've also been working with local companies to help them bid for public sector work, with A1 Ironmongery and Radbury Glazing two recent success stories. This feeds in to our commitment to help companies maximise their impact. We've also re-launched our Ambition programme to help up and coming businesses to achieve growth and expand, and worked with a number of businesses to locate to South Ayrshire through Invest South Ayrshire.
We're also taking forward plans to transform Ayr Town Centre and have been asking you to 'Ayr Your Views' on proposals including high-quality and attractive public spaces, a new town centre leisure facility, new housing adjacent to the High Street, and dedicated event and community areas. Further consultations will follow in 2019, providing you with more detail on agreed projects, including designs, costs and timescales.
During the Year of Young People we supported hundreds of young people through employability programmes such as Work Out! and through our partnership with Prince's Trust and Developing Young Workforce, with a new Rugby Coaching Academy the latest project to launch at Kyle Academy. The Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme also remains very popular and combined with the work of our schools we are helping people from across the area to realise their potential.
We're also committed to widening opportunities for people of all ages to engage in sport and physical activity to promote healthy lifestyles, through our Access to Leisure card which offers discounts of up to 50% on memberships and admission prices to our activity centres, pools, and golf courses. A pilot at Maybole Golf Course also let people try the sport for free as we look to attract a new generation to take up the sport as part of a much wider campaign.
Looking ahead, the coming year will doubtless bring fresh challenges and we know that balancing the books remains a real and pressing challenge, with more savings to be made. This year thousands of you got involved in a public consultation to highlight the areas you wanted to be treated as priority areas and we listened. Early next year we'll be launching a new consultation and we need your help as we work to protect vital services while responding to the needs of our communities.
2018 has been a memorable year with lots to celebrate and I hope we can all enjoy the festive break. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.