South Ayrshire

South Ayrshire (Scots: Sooth Ayrshire; Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir a Deas, pronounced [ˈʃirˠəxk iɲiˈɾʲaːɾʲ ə tʲes̪]) is one of thirty-two council areas of Scotland, covering the southern part of Ayrshire. It borders onto Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire and North Ayrshire. Following the 2017 council election, Labour and the Scottish National Party announced an agreement to control the council, supported by both independent councillors, despite the fact that the Conservatives emerged as the largest single party on the council with twelve of the twenty-eight elected members,[1][2] with the SNP's Douglas Campbell serving as Leader of the Council and Labour's Helen Moonie returning as Provost.[3]

South Ayrshire
Sooth Ayrshire
Siorrachd Inbhir Àir a Deas

Coat of arms

Coordinates: 55°17′N 4°42′W
Admin HQCounty Buildings, Ayr
  BodySouth Ayrshire Council
  ControlSNP + Lab + Ind (council NOC)
  Total472 sq mi (1,222 km2)
Area rankRanked 15th
 (mid-2018 est.)
  RankRanked 19th
  Density240/sq mi (92/km2)
ONS codeS12000028
ISO 3166 codeGB-SAY

History and creation

The administrative boundaries were formed in 1996 as a direct successor to the Kyle and Carrick district council area, with the district of Dalmellington - located along the south-east of Kyle and Carrick - being transferred over to the newly formed East Ayrshire Council area. South Ayrshire's Headquarters, "County Buildings", are located in Wellington Square, Ayr. The buildings were built in 1931 on the site of Ayr Jail and opened by King George VI. At the front of the buildings is Ayr Sheriff Court which was built as the original county buildings in 1822.

Geography and climate

Geographically, South Ayrshire is located on the western coast of Scotland, sharing borders with neighbouring local authorities East Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway and North Ayrshire. The climate in South Ayrshire, typical of that in Western Scotland, is milder than that of Eastern Scotland due to the stronger maritime influence, as the prevailing winds blow from the sea into South Ayrshire, which is located primarily on the western coast of Scotland. The warm Gulf Stream also has a strong influence on Western Scotland. With winds mainly blowing from the sea the annual mean temperatures are in the range 9.5 to 9.9 °C (49.1 to 49.8 °F) in coastal areas of South Ayrshire such as Ayr and Troon. The sea reaches its lowest temperature in February or early March so that on average February is the coldest month in some coastal parts of South Ayrshire along with the Rinns of Galloway, Kintyre and the Hebrides. In February the mean daily minimum temperature varies from about 2 °C in most of the islands, 1 to 2 °C along most of the Solway Firth and lowland inland areas, but less than 1 °C in parts of the Southern Uplands and central Highlands. Inland, where the influence of the sea is less, January is the coldest month with mean daily minimum temperatures generally between −3 and 0 °C.[4]

The number of hours of natural sunshine in South Ayrshire is controlled by the length of day and by cloudiness. In general, December is the dullest month and May or June the sunniest. Sunshine duration decreases with increasing altitude, increasing latitude and distance from the coast. Local topography also exerts a strong influence and in the winter deep glens and north-facing slopes can be in shade for long periods. Industrial pollution and smoke haze can also reduce sunshine amounts, but the decline in heavy industry in the Ayrshire area, primarily in Ayr in South Ayrshire along with Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire, has resulted in an increase in sunshine duration particularly in the winter months.[4]

Average annual rainfall totals range from less than 1,000 mm (39 in) in the upper Clyde valley and along the coasts of Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway to on average over 3,500 mm (140 in) over the higher parts of the west Highlands, approaching the maximum values found in the UK (over 4,000 millimetres or 160 inches further north).[4]

Community involvement

Overview and community participation

In South Ayrshire, the council places an emphasis on Community Planning being based on the core idea that if everyone works more effectively together then public services will improve for those who use them (within South Ayrshire). Community Planning starts with the service providers, such as South Ayrshire Council, the NHS (NHS Ayrshire and Arran) and Police Scotland, whereby they engage with local communities and service users to find out what their needs are and then jointly agree on priorities. The next stage is to jointly design local services to meet these identified priorities and ensure that they are delivered effectively.

Following an independent review of community planning in South Ayrshire which took place throughout 2014, new priorities and governance structures were agreed, including the establishment of a Community Planning Executive, three new Strategic Delivery Partnerships to deliver these priorities which include Economy & Employment, Health & Wellbeing and Community Safety. A Shortlife Working Group on Prevention and Early Intervention has also been set up as part of the new arrangements.[5]

South Ayrshire Planning Board

The Community Planning Board is the executive and decision making body of the South Ayrshire Community Planning Partnership (CPP). The board is chaired by the Leader of the Council, currently Councillor Douglas Campbell of the Scottish National Party. It makes decisions on priorities, strategic outcomes and objectives for the Community Planning Partnership in South Ayrshire where it has responsibility for the delivery of the South Ayrshire Single Outcome Agreement.[5] The board is composed of various councillors and officials within South Ayrshire Council, as well as the Chief Executive, Eileen Howatt, Tim Eltringham, the Director of Health & Social Care at the South Ayrshire Partnership and Heather Dunk OBE, currently the principal of Ayrshire College (which has one of its main campuses in Ayr, the administrative town of South Ayrshire Council).[5]

Educational and children's services

Educational provisional

Educational provision in South Ayrshire is offered via eight secondary schools, forty-one primary schools, two special needs schools and five stand-alone Early Years Centre's (although some primary schools have Early Years Centres attached).[6][7] In terms of early years provision, there are also a number of private establishments which are operated in conjunction with South Ayrshire Council, rather than managed and operated entirely by the council.[7] Based on figures from the 2016-2017 academic year, within South Ayrshire, there were 6,091 secondary school aged pupils,[8] 7,855 primary school aged pupils[8] and 251 pupils attending special educational needs provision establishments.[8] Educational Services within South Ayrshire Council, which is currently managed by Douglas Hutchinson, is responsible for all aspects of educational provision within the authority, including primary, secondary, early years, out of school care, creche services, pupil attainment, behaviour, behaviour management strategies and pupil welfare.[9]

Across South Ayrshire, a number of schools have either undergone a period of extensive refurbishment or complete rebuilding. In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, in July 2017 it was highlighted that three schools within South Ayrshire – Marr College, Ayr Academy and Dalmilling Primary, were cladded with the same cladding that caused the widespread of the fire at Grenfell Tower which is led to speculate why the fire was able to spread so quickly. Due to the low rise nature of the school building, South Ayrshire has issued a statement in which it states it is "fully confident" in the structure and design of the schools, and that the cladding used meets the strict fire restrictions used in building and planning operations in Scotland, further highlighting that all schools are fitted with enhanced fire prevention equipment such as sprinkler systems, fire alarms and vigorous fire evacuation procedures, in which Grenfell Tower did not.[10]

Out of School Care

Marr College and Prestwick Academy are two examples of South Ayrshire's historic and modern school estates. Marr College has undergone a period of extension and refurbishment throughout 2016–17 whilst preserving the original historic building.

South Ayrshire Council owns, operates and managed out-of-school care provision for children aged 3–14 years, taking children from early years, primary and the first few years of secondary school provision.[11] The Out of School Care provision within South Ayrshire is operated at five care clubs– Muirhead (Troon), Symington, Mossblown, Colyton and Dundonald.[11] In recent years, the staffing structure of after school care has changed to meet the demands of the wider council budget, and as of 2017, care clubs operated by South Ayrshire Council employ a Play Leader, responsible for the day-to-day operation of the service, alongside a Play Assistant, who assists in the provision and carries out responsibilities that can be delegate from the Play Leader or someone acting on their behalf. Staff employed to operate the care clubs are employed to provide child-centered play experiences for children which meet their individual needs and promote a safe and secure environment. Following on from Scotland's first Play Strategy introduced in 2013, South Ayrshire Council launched their own Let's Play - A Strategy for Early Learning and Childcare services in South Ayrshire policy in 2017 which runs until 2020.[12]

Care Clubs operated by South Ayrshire Council are registered with both the Care Inspectorate and the Childcare and Recreation Service (CARIS).[11] Like the educational services within South Ayrshire Council, the Childcare Services department, being part of the wider Educational Services, is managed by Douglas Hutchinson, Head of Educational Services.[13]

Social services within education

In line with most other Scottish local authorities, South Ayrshire Council has undertaken measures to ensure that services such as education and social work become more streamlined to ensure it is easier for professionals from both professions to communicate and share information in relation to children's care, welfare, learning and development. The Health and Social Care department within South Ayrshire, whilst being responsible for others such as the elderly, is an example of a more streamlined and integrated service to ensure all professionals are getting it right for the young people in South Ayrshire.[14] The Health and Social Care Partnership department in South Ayrshire was established in 2015 under the provisions of the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act, 2014.[14] The department is governed by an Integration Joint Board which is made up of eight voting members appointed by South Ayrshire Council as well as the NHS Ayrshire and Arran Board. Representatives from other sectors including the third sector (private sector), the independent sector, staff representatives and others representing the interests of patients, service users, carers and professionals also sit on the Board and contribute to its work. Separate Integration Joint Boards have also been established in the North Ayrshire and East Ayrshire Council authorities.[14]

The South Ayrshire Child Protection Committee is the main local strategic planning partnership which has responsibility for delivering continuous improvement in protecting children in South Ayrshire. Primarily, it involves the design, development, dissemination and evaluation of inter-agency child protection policy, procedures and practice in establishments. It has a responsibility to promote awareness of child protection to the local public and promote good practice within and across agencies, as well as leading on child protection training and development within South Ayrshire to all relevant professionals, such as Social Workers, Teachers, Pupil Support Assistants and Head Teachers.[15]

Towns and villages

South Ayrshire's population is mostly concentrated around the adjoining coastal towns of Ayr, Prestwick and Troon located to the north-west of the council, which represents 68% of the council's total population according to data derived from the 2011 census, with a combined population of 76,846. Other areas of significance include the towns of Maybole and Girvan which are located to the south of the council area in the district of Carrick.

A list of settlements in South Ayrshire may be found below:


Villages and hamlets

Places of interest

Politics and governance

Council structure

South Ayrshire
Leader of the Council
Douglas Campbell, SNP
since 4 May 2017
Deputy Leader of the Council
Brian McGinley, Labour
since 4 May 2017
Helen Moonie, Labour
since 3 May 2012
Seats28 councillors
12 / 28
8 / 28
5 / 28
3 / 28
Single transferable vote
Last election
4 May 2017
Meeting place

County Buildings, Wellington Square, Ayr

South Ayrshire Council is one of thirty-two local authority areas of Scotland. Its political structure consists of one Leader of the Council, one Deputy Leader of the Council and one Provost.[16][17] Following the 2017 Council election, the Scottish Conservative Party returned twelve councillors, the Scottish National Party returned nine councillors, Scottish Labour returned five councillors and two independent councillors were elected to the Council.[18] The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party returned the largest number of councillors, but did not have a majority. The Scottish National Party formed a working group along with Scottish Labour and the two independent councillors to run the council after the Scottish Conservatives failed to reach a deal with Scottish Labour, who had previously supported the Conservative-led administration following the 2012 Council election.[19]

South Ayrshire's provost, Helen Moonie (Scottish Labour Party), has been Provost of South Ayrshire since her appointment to the post in 2012 and was re-elected to serve as Provost in 2017.[16] The Provost of South Ayrshire is apolitical, which sees the post-holder carry out various duties across the authority acting as First Citizen of South Ayrshire. The Provost is mostly responsible for chairing meetings of the Council whilst ensuring the proper conduct of business in terms of the Council's Standing Orders. The Provost's role also involves representing the Council as its Civic Head at various events and working with numerous community groups, businesses and voluntary organisations in the interests of the local community.[16]

Local council elections results

Party Members
1995 1999 2003 2007 2012 2017
Conservative 4 13 15 12 10 12
SNP 0 0 0 8 9 9
Labour 21 17 15 9 9 5
Independent 0 0 0 1 2 2

† denotes an election held under the first-past-the-post electoral system. Elections held after this point were conducted under the single transferable vote, a form of proportional representation allowing for fairer representation of minority parties.

2017 election

The council has 28 councillors, elected in 8 multi-member wards by single transferable vote. A list of South Ayrshire councillors may be found below, sorted by political party:

  • Conservative (12): Ian Campbell, Peter Convery, Ian Davis, Martin Dowey, Ian Fitzsimmons, Hugh Hunter, Mary Kilpatrick, Lee Lyons, Darek McCabe, Bob Pollok, Arthur Spurling and Margaret Toner.
  • Scottish National Party (9): Laura Brennan-Whitefield, Siobhian Brown, Douglas Campbell, Ian Cochrane, Chris Cullen, Julie Dettbarn, William Grant, Peter Henderson and Craig Mackay.
  • Labour (5): Andy Campbell, Ian Cavana, Brian McGinley, Helen Moonie and Philip Saxton
  • Independent (2): Alec Clark and Brian Connolly.

The 2017 elections resulted in the following representation:

Ward Members Representation
1. Troon 4 2xCON 1xSNP 1xLAB
2. Prestwick 4 2xCON 1xSNP 1xLAB
3. Ayr North 4 2xSNP 1xCON 1xLAB
4. Ayr East 3 1xCON 1xSNP 1xLAB
5. Ayr West 4 3xCON 1xSNP
6. Kyle 3 1xCON 1xSNP 1xLAB
7. Maybole, North Carrick and Coylton 3 1xCON 1xSNP 1xIND
8. Girvan and South Carrick 3 1xIND 1xCON 1xSNP

Council Management

South Ayrshire Council, in line with other Scottish council areas, has a management team which runs the council.[13][20] As of August 2017, South Ayrshire Council is headed by a Chief Executive, who also acts as Returning Officer for the purposes of Scottish Parliamentary Elections, UK General Elections and elections to the European Parliament. The Chief Executive is the head of the corporate management team (CMT) and works with representatives and civil servants.[13][20]

South Ayrshire Council is divided into four main service areas – Economy, Neighbourhood and Environment, Educational Services, Resources, Governance and Organisation and Health and Social Care.[21] Each service area is headed by one Executive Director and then a number of Heads working under the direction of the director.[22][20]

UK Parliament

South Ayrshire forms part of two UK Parliamentary constituencies, listed below:

Constituency Member of Parliament Extent of constituency
Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock Bill Grant Conservative Covering Ayr, Carrick and Coylton, alongside Cumnock and Doon Valley in East Ayrshire.
Central Ayrshire Philippa Whitford SNP Covering Prestwick, Troon and Kyle, alongside Irvine and south-east Kilwinning in North Ayrshire

Scottish Parliament

Constituency MSPs

South Ayrshire forms part of two Scottish Parliamentary constituency seats, listed below:

Constituency Member of Scottish Parliament Extent of constituency
Ayr John Scott Conservative Covering Ayr, Prestwick and Troon.
Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley Jeane Freeman SNP Covering Kyle and Carrick outside of Ayr, Prestwick and Troon, alongside Ballochmyle, Cumnock and Doon Valley in East Ayrshire.

Regional List MSPs

As part of the South Scotland electoral region, South Ayrshire is represented by 7 regional MSPs who are elected to represent the entire South Scotland region – all regional list MSPs elected for the South Scotland region are listed below:

Constituency Member Party
South Scotland Joan McAlpine Scottish National
Emma Harper Scottish National
Paul Wheelhouse Scottish National
Michelle Ballantyne Conservative
Brian Whittle Conservative
Claudia Beamish Labour
Colin Smyth Labour

Scottish independence referendum

At the 2014 Scottish independence referendum South Ayrshire rejected independence by an above-average margin of 57.9% "No" to 42.1% "Yes". With a turnout of 86.1%, there were 34,402 "Yes" votes and 47,247 "No" votes. Nationally 55.3% of voters voted "No" in the referendum compared to 44.7%, who voted "Yes" – resulting in Scotland remaining a devolved part of the United Kingdom.[23][24]

European Union membership referendum

At the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum a majority of voters in South Ayrshire voted for the United Kingdom to remain a member of the European Union (EU), with 59% of voters in South Ayrshire voting for the United Kingdom to remain a member of the EU and 41% voting for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. With a turnout of 69.8%, 36,265 votes were cast for remain and 25,241 were cast for leave. Nationally, 62% of Scottish voters voted remain whilst 38% voted leave, with 51.8% of voters in the United Kingdom as a whole voting to leave and 48.2% voting to remain.[25][26]


  1. Wilson, Stuart (11 May 2017). "BREAKING: SNP lead new era at South Ayrshire Council".
  2. "SNP and Labour confirm deal to take charge of South Ayrshire Council ..." 11 May 2017. Archived from the original on 11 May 2017.
  3. Wilson, Stuart (11 May 2017). "SNP and Labour set to take control of South Ayrshire Council as Conservative talks collapse".
  4. "Western Scotland: climate". Met Office. This article contains quotations from this source, which is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0. © Crown copyright.
  5. "Community Planning - Community Planning Partnership".
  6. "Find a school in South Ayrshire - Secondary, Primary, Nursery and Special Schools".
  7. "Early Years Centres and partnership centres".
  9. "Corporate Management Team - Departmental Structure".
  10. "Council confident in school estate safety".
  11. "Out of school childcare - South Ayrshire Council".
  13. "Corporate Management Team - Departmental Structure".
  14. "South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership".
  15. "Child Protection - South Ayrshire Council".
  16. "Provost - South Ayrshire Council".
  17. "Councillors - South Ayrshire Council".
  18. "Council Election 2017 Results - South Ayrshire Council".
  19. "Coalition formed to run South Ayrshire". 11 May 2017 via
  21. "Corporate Management Team - Departmental Structure".
  23. "Referendum 2014". Archived from the original on 22 September 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  24. "Indy red round-up: South Ayrshire votes No"
  25. 'EU Referendum 2016'
  26. "South Ayrshire votes remain with the rest of Scotland"
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