Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader South Ayrshire Council
With the festive season in full swing, I have been reflecting on what we have achieved over the past year.
We are progressing a number of exciting projects which could completely transform South Ayrshire. Working with partners, we are looking to bring the UK's first Spaceport to Prestwick; we are already recognised as leaders in the aviation, aerospace and technology sectors and if successful, we could be become the centre of the UK's space industry.
All of these sectors and many others could also benefit from plans to submit a regional growth bid to the Scottish Government. The bid sets out plans to tackle barriers to economic growth in Ayrshire.
Our aviation sector is thriving and I am delighted to welcome Bristow Helicopter Lt to Prestwick airport to run the new search and rescue service.
We are looking to attract even more business and new enterprises to South Ayrshire and we need to ensure that people living here can capitalise on any job opportunities.
We have our AMBITION programme which helps job creation and boosts skills and we are also investing in schools.
We are extending Marr College in Troon and work will start on the new Ayr Academy at Craigie in the New Year. The old Ayr Academy building could become a new home for Ayr Grammar Primary School. Plans are also progressing for new primary schools in Tarbolton and Dailly. Our investment in schools seems to be working as exam results continue to improve.
The new play park at Belleisle in Ayr is proving very popular and other improvements are set to make the park even more appealing.
I am hopeful that the Odeon cinema will move into the Kyle Centre in Ayr and Watt Bros recently moved to larger premises on Ayr high street. We are also looking to bring new Council offices into the heart of Ayr town centre, boosting footfall and improving access to our services.
Tourism remains a fundamental part of our economy, around 70,000 people from all over the country were mesmerised at the Scottish Airshow in September as the red arrows painted the sky red, white and blue.
With tourism and golf in mind, I am delighted that Royal Troon will host the 145th Open Golf Tournament in July. Up to 170,000 spectators are expected and our local businesses will benefit from this.
I am also pleased that progress is being made on the refurbishment of both Belleisle and Troon golf clubhouses.
We are investing in sporting facilities across South Ayrshire. January will see work start on the new £5 million leisure facility in Girvan which is set to open in the spring of 2017.
There has been some sad news too this past year, former Provost Winifred Sloan passed away. She was a great ambassador for South Ayrshire and will be sadly missed.
Looking ahead, our Scottish Government funding has been reduced significantly for 2016/2017, so there will be some very tough decisions to make. We have already engaged with you to see how you would make savings of £1.6 million and I would like to thank everyone that took part.
The Scottish Parliamentary elections will be held on Thursday 5 May next year, so remember to register to vote.
It's the festive season and time for friends and family. However, not everyone is on holiday, so please remember those that continue to provide vital services at this time of year.
It's also a time of year when people may need a little help, so please remember to check on elderly or vulnerable neighbours, just doing a few small things could make a big difference.
I wish everyone a peaceful Christmas and a healthy and contented New Year.