More cash, more surveys and more talking.
That’s the best idea that the brightest minds at council HQ can come up with in the battle to save ailing Ayr town centre.
For they’ve proposed flinging £120,000 at yet another talking shop in a bid to find out why our once proud town continues to flounder.
And despite howls of protest from both sides of South Ayrshire’s coalition partnership, the powers that be gave the latest brainwave the green light at a key meeting on Tuesday.
The two year project is being hyped as a step in the right direction by council officials.
But critical councillors say they could learn nothing from the expensive question and answer.
And they’ve hit out at the number of costly projects bidding to save the town.
The new initiative is being driven by £90,000 of European Union cash.
And South Ayrshire bosses will pour an extra £30,000 into the pot so they can “engage the private sector”.
They claim the cash will help them talk to traders and fight off the crippling effects of the recession.
But the spending has led to calls for common sense over cash.
John McDowall, depute leader of the council, said: “Is any of this going to change what we already know about our town centre?
“People’s shopping habits have changed in modern times and retailers must now adapt to that.
“I don’t want us gathering stats we’re all painfully aware of. What are we actually trying to achieve here?”
David Bell, who heads up the council’s costly Ayr Renaissance project, insisted the new idea would be no talking shop.
He told the council’s leadership panel: “I see this as a vital third leg of what we’re trying to do in the town.
“It will sit alongside the Renaissance and Ayr Townscape Heritage Initiative.
“The difference with those projects is they focus on the physical aspects.
“This new project will give us two years to gather a consensus on the best way forward.
“One thing it might produce is a town centre traders’ association, which we don’t have at the moment.”
The project, known as a Business Improvement District, will create a new post at the council with an officer paid £25,000 per year.
Mr Bell explained that businesses will be expected to contribute financially to a central pot and decide as a group how it is spent.
But Ayr town centre councillor, Bill Grant, pointed out: “I seem to recall two previous attempts like this to engage with traders, and both failed.
“Retailing is not just changing in Ayr – it’s changing around the world.
“I’d be interested to know how we run this alongside the projects already underway in Ayr.”
Despite concerns, councillors stilling on the panel voted to give the the project their approval.