This week’s letters to the editor

employment

Increase in employment in Ayrshire

As the latest unemployment figures were released last week much was made of the positive rise in employment across the country. We’re also seeing the largest annual increase in employment across Ayrshire amongst 18-24 year olds since 2008.

This is great news, but it is important that we don’t lose sight of the serious problems affecting so many young people across Ayrshire

Youth unemployment amongst 18-24 year olds across Ayrshire has dropped in the last year from 3,750 to 2,875. This is positive but it means there are nearly 3000 young people in Ayrshire still out of work. Young people who should be full of enthusiasm and excitement for their lives and careers are left with an uncertain future ahead of them.

Earlier this month we launched The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index. Our findings revealed that one in 10 young people in Scotland have experienced symptoms of mental illness such as panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, insomnia and self harm as a direct result of being unemployed. Long term youth unemployment in Ayrshire is high but a solution is possible. We can all believe in young people and encourage them to turn to organisations like The Prince’s Trust and get their lives back on track.  

The Prince’s Trust Scotland have a number of upcoming programmes based in Ayrshire,

We are currently recruiting in North, East and South Ayrshire for our 12 week personal development programme allowing young people to develop new skills and engage with their local community.

Together we can work to further reduce next year’s unemployment figures in Ayrshire. If you think we could help you or someone you know, please get in touch with us to find out more. www.princes-trust.org.uk/Scotland

Euan Millar

Business Development Manager - Ayrshire

The Prince’s Trust Scotland

driving tests

Crucial in campaign

With reference to the article in last week’s Gazette about the Girvan Driving Test Centre, I must bring to your attention the omission of one person from your article who was crucial in the campaign to bring the test centre back to Girvan after the closure in 2010.

That person is Mr Jamie Slaven of Jamie`s School of Motoring.

Jamie was the first to raise the prospect of the closure and lobbied the authorities for the closure to be reversed.

He attended Community Council meetings to offer updates , advice etc and he was invaluable in briefing me in my capacity as Chair of Girvan and District Community Council to allow me to lobby the relevant people and to provide the information to communicate with Sandra Osborne MP who did a great job in Parliament. Jamie is also the man who suggested that the Driving Test Centre should be based at the The Carrick Buildings. His hard work is part of the reason that we have the test centre today.

Councillor Alec Clark,

Girvan and South Carrick

railways

Dunragit is not best site

Does Dunragit railway station deserve to be re­opened? Formerly part of the Portpatrick Joint Railway, the station closed with the loss of passenger traffic on the Stranraer to Dumfries “Paddy line” in 1965. Both lines and platforms are still intact and the access road crosses the line at right angles immediately adjacent to the site. The signal box is still working and it uses tokens giving access to single stretches of the line.

There are currently six trains between Stranraer and Ayr from Monday to Saturday. They take about 82 minutes on this tortuous, steeply graded, scenic route, which is almost entirely rural south of Ayr. There is scope to reduce journey timings by using cascaded diesels with faster acceleration and lifting a few speed restrictions. Fares quoted on thetrainline.com on December 29 indicate a single fare between Stranraer of £8.50 single and £17.40 day return/£20.40 period return. Bus fares are cheaper and more flexible for an Ayr-Stranraer journey of 110-120 minutes.

Rail fares should be substantially reduced and cheap returns should last up to a month. This would reflect the low wages in the area and help replace some of the passengers lost when ferry services moved to Cairnryan. Bus services operate from Stranraer-Newton Stewart and Stranraer-Ayr. There is a local bus from Stranraer to Cairnryan though connections with the ferries are not good. The proposed railway station would offer a new journey between Dunragit to Girvan and Ayr.

Dunragit, five miles from Stranraer, has a population of around 900 plus a catchment area including the Rhins, Machars and Mull of Galloway. There is a parcel of brownfield land near the site which could be used for parking. Bus/rail interchange and car access to Stranraer railway station are not good: some 18,000 annual passenger journeys are forecast for the reopened station. Even with affordable fares, aver­age spend per passenger should be good. Ayr would probably be the most popular destination. A reopened station would also generate some local car and bus journeys with the loss of some longer car journeys.

A Transport Scotland document reveals the Dunragit bypass is needed to “maintain the asset value of the A75” and to “achieve good value for money”. Should there not also be investment in the rail service, especially after the expenditure on the A77? Swestrans is seeking funding for up to four stations including Dunragit/New Luce, which is clearly not the best site. Anyone who supports this station reopening should contact their community council and D&G councillor, also secretary@railfuturescotland.org.uk.

Graham Lund,

Girvan.