Ayr needs to be bold and embrace change

Robert Roberts, Ayr town centre regeneration project officer.
Robert Roberts, Ayr town centre regeneration project officer.

Community and business leaders in Ayr were urged to be bold and embrace change when Scotland’s Town’s Partnership chief executive visited the town last week.

Phil Prentice was in Ayr for a town centre summit at the town hall organised by the Ayr Station Hotel Community Action Group with support from the Kyle and Carrick Civic Society. He highlighted the revised Business Improvement Districts model, and the new £50 million Town Centre Fund announced by the Scottish Government as major opportunities for further growth in both small and rural towns.

The shift towards lifestyle service economies in towns and the critical importance of infrastructure and connectivity was discussed, Mr Prentice warning that the towns that refuse to adapt and embrace change risk being left behind.

Scottish Town Partnership acts as a hub to help people learn, connect, find practical support and advice, and share good practice. Speaking in Ayr last week its chief executive, Phil Prentice, said: “The recent Scottish budget announcement providing £50 million for town centres to drive local economic activity and stimulate economic improvements was a welcome respite against the backdrop of ongoing retail closures and public sector shrinkage.

“The spirit of reinvention is very much alive. However, the towns that will reinvent themselves successfully will be those which are willing to take ambitious, bold, and perhaps uncomfortable, decisions. Like many towns, Ayr is facing change - it’s role as a regional retail and commercial hub has diminished and the opportunity now is to drive some new reinvention.

“The town has many assets - the coast, river, university, college, council HQ, an airport and the railway. The emerging plans around culture and heritage, leisure and evening economy, and retail zones look exciting and link many of these assets together.

“Consensus, compromise and collaboration will be needed, alongside strong leadership and close engagement with local businesses and communities to help create a renewed sense of optimism.”