It is an honour and a privilege to stand in the forthcoming Holyrood elections as the SNP candidate to represent Ayr constituency, which includes the neighbouring towns of Prestwick and Troon.
We live in a beautiful part of the world, on the picturesque south west coast of Scotland. We have many valuable resources such as our world class golf courses, Robert Burns heritage, Ayr Racecourse, Prestwick Airport, Troon port and yacht marina – we are fortunate to have this wealth of strategic assets surrounding our towns.
Like many across Scotland in recent decades, our towns have faced challenges, especially in relation to the growth of online shopping, larger retailers moving out of town and COVID-19.
However, I believe we can pursue innovative ways to attract people back into our towns through enhancing leisure and residential facilities as well as supporting boutique retailers, cafes and restaurants to develop our town centres into thriving, bustling, community spaces.
South Ayrshire Council have recently committed to £40m capital investment for a new leisure centre in Ayr town centre. This investment has encouraged the private sector to also commit to investing in Ayr town centre.
I would like to see this kind of development occur across the three towns of the constituency to build on the vibrant communities of Ayr, Troon and Prestwick and enhance the quality of life for all residents.
As we look at ways to transform our towns and reintroduce residential opportunities, I would also like to see the Scottish Government provide financial incentives not just to new builds but to existing buildings redeveloped imaginatively to meet the needs for high quality, affordable housing in the constituency.
There are also opportunities to create a ‘Gateway to South Ayrshire’ at the port of Troon. The temporary relocation of the Arran ferry to Troon provides a chance to explore the potential of opening up other ferry routes from Troon.
Current international travel restrictions are an opportunity to promote “Staycations” and develop our local tourism strategy to make Ayr, Prestwick and Troon destination areas.
We already have many top class attractions and a wealth of history on our doorstep: I have the energy and vision to develop these further, benefitting both residents and visitors.
South Ayrshire currently leads Scotland with 98% of school leavers moving onto “positive destinations” such as further education, apprenticeship or into employment. Yet I am ambitious for our constituency and believe even more can be done to create quality jobs for young people so they can stay in South Ayrshire rather than move away in search of employment.
The Ayrshire Growth Deal brings £80 million of investment to our area, supporting an Aerospace and Space Programme based in Prestwick – which is estimated will support the creation of 4,000 jobs by 2030.
The space sector has remained resilient through the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to grow to a global level of up to £800 billion by 2030. This could potentially be a massive area of growth for our community, which could see us take a prominent role on the international stage in this developing technology.
Building legislation is another area which I am passionate about improving. The Station Hotel is a prime example of how neglected and unmaintained buildings can become dangerous. Simple legal measures can be put in place to enforce owners to complete basic maintenance such as annual gutter cleaning, which can prevent buildings in our towns deteriorating further.
We owe it to future generations to maintain the architectural heritage of our constituency and preserve the distinctive character of Ayr, Troon and Prestwick.
As your MSP, I will work tirelessly to build on every opportunity to improve our constituency – economically and socially as a desirable place to live, work and visit.
I will actively seek out ways to promote our constituency in Holyrood and beyond, bringing my passion, energy and determination that Ayr, Troon and Prestwick are, to paraphrase Burns, ne’er surpassed.
On May 6, we can choose to keep delivering progress, put Scotland’s recovery firmly into Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s.
To elect a strong Team SNP to take Scotland forward, vote for Siobhian Brown in the Ayr constituency, and for the SNP on the West Scotland regional list.
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