The political leaders of East, North and South Ayrshire Councils have pressed the UK Government to make the Ayrshire Growth Deal a priority this year at a meeting with the Secretary of State for Scotland, The Rt Hon David Mundell MP.
Councillors Douglas Reid, Joe Cullinane and Douglas Campbell delivered the 'Ayrshire matters' message at their first joint meeting of 2018 and urged the Secretary of State to take the message back to his Westminster colleagues.
The purpose of the Ayrshire Growth Deal is to provide a focus for targeted investment – coordinated through a series of identified projects including aerospace, life sciences and manufacturing – that build on Ayrshire's strengths, increase employment and prosperity and boost the economy at local, Scottish and UK levels.
Funding support of more than £350 million is being sought from the UK and Scottish Governments for the Ayrshire Growth Deal.
South Ayrshire Council Leader Councillor Douglas Campbell, who hosted the meeting at the Council's headquarters in Ayr, said the meeting with the Secretary of State had been frank and constructive. He added:
"As part of our wider efforts to boost economic growth, the Ayrshire Growth Deal has a vital role to play and the Secretary of State and his parliamentary colleagues have the power to make that happen.
"This was a useful opportunity, following the Autumn Budget, to remind Mr Mundell of why Ayrshire needs a Growth Deal and the potential benefits that Deal could bring – not just to Ayrshire, but to the whole of the UK. We made it clear to Mr Mundell that Ayrshire matters and we will continue to make that case until we get the necessary funding commitments."
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: "Ayrshire is a great example of the invaluable contribution non-city regions can make to the national economy and we're looking to the Secretary of State to help us turn our ambitions into a reality. It was particularly helpful to have the discussion with Mr Mundell the day after a very successful Business Breakfast in Kilmarnock where businesses across Ayrshire pledged their support for Ayrshire growth.
"The Growth Deal is something that both the public and private sectors want to happen and we very much welcome the support of our businesses to further our case with our elected politicians."
Councillor Joe Cullinane added: "While we're seeing progress in some of our Ayrshire Growth Deal projects, we do need the support of our government colleagues to allow us to get this transformational programme of work underway in a meaningful sense and that message was certainly made loud and clear to the Secretary of State.
"We have all invested resources and time into driving this work forward and we want to have the opportunity to build on that momentum in partnership with Westminster and Holyrood to deliver the change our communities deserve and our economy needs. This is the year we must make that happen."
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "I had a productive meeting with Ayrshire's three councils. The UK Government is driving forward an ambitious Industrial Strategy, and I want to ensure Ayrshire shares in the UK's economic growth. By working closely with the councils, the Scottish Government and businesses, we can help Ayrshire achieve its economic potential, boosting jobs and prosperity."