Jul 20 2012 by Stuart Wilson, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
EMPTY shops, run down – and nothing like it used to be.
The usual tag lines attached to beleagured Ayr town centre.
But now a public meeting has been called to discuss the revamp of the flagging retail hub.
We might have heard it all before, but organisers of this gathering are urging business leaders to make their voice heard at the unique forum.
And they’re pledging to send the feedback directly to the Scottish government, who are consulting on the state of town centres across the country.
Event chief Corri Wilson has teamed up with South of Scotland MSP Chic Brodie to front the meeting.
And they insist this will be no talking shop, with stakeholders given a huge chance to effect change in the town.
Corri revealed: “We don’t believe a meeting of this nature has ever been held before.
“It will attempt to bring together many of the town’s traders and businesses in the one place.
“We believe it’s vital to get dialogue going in a bid to change the fortunes of Ayr.
“Businesses are shutting down left, right and centre and it’s high time we started listening to the people that matter and getting their ideas.”
The Federation of Small Businesses, Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce, Ayr Renaissance Board and South Ayrshire Council have all been invited to attend the summit on Saturday, July 21 at 2pm.
And it’s hoped more than 300 people could turn up for the conference on the town’s future.
Corri, who is also a South Ayrshire councillor, added: “There’s nothing to gain from going over old ground.
“We’ve heard a lot about the town centre and its failings over the last few years but now is the time to focus on how we improve things.”
And MSP Chic is determined that views coming from the meeting will be taken straight to the top.
He said: “Ayr used to be a vibrant, clean and attractive place to visit, shop and play.
“Somewhere it lost its way. We now need to set a vision for the type of Ayr we want, recognising the challenges and competition that exist.
“I believe we can do that as we have so many things that should be going for us but we have to reset things like our transport infrastructure, our leisure and culture, our sporting facilities and attributes.
“Basically we need a real vision and plan and I welcome the involvement and interest of small businesses and the community in coming with ideas as to what we need to do.
“We can’t stand still. Now is the time to move forward. I hope we have a great turnout on Sunday.”