Mar 1 2013 by Craig Robertson, Kilmarnock Standard
The future of a group set up to drive the regeneration of Kilmarnock lies in doubt.
Make it Kilmarnock’s board faces being scrapped under changes to the way the council rolls out its economic development plans.
Councillors were set to be told at a meeting yesterday (Wednesday) how the group had probably done all it could do.
In a report due to go before a cabinet meeting, head of planning Alan Neish states: “The Make it Kilmarnock board has provided a wider input to the setting of priorities for the overall Make it Kilmarnock Initiative and improved communications between the key public and private sector stakeholders.
“However projects are moving to implementation and it is therefore proposed that the next meeting of the board considers whether or not there is a future role for the board.”
The Make it Kilmarnock scheme was set up in response to Diageo’s plan to close the Johnnie Walker plant in the town.
Membership of the board includes several leading councillors, chief executive Fiona Lees, Kilmarnock College principal Heather Dunk and members of the business community.
Mr Neish said Make it Kilmarnock has “delivered several actions which have the potential to enhance the town and improve opportunities”.
He said they included £2 million of European investment to support building at the Moorfield industrial area of the town; the attraction of new non-retail firms into the town centre; the funded development of the new college campus at the former Johnnie Walker plant on Hill Street; two studies - one to look at traffic flow and another on a design brief; talks with owners of empty retail units; the creation of an industry forum called Business Banter; the creation of business enterprise projects in schools and; the installation of a Johnnie Walker exhibition at the Dick Institute.
He added: “The key output to date has been the development of an Integrated Urban Development Plan for Kilmarnock which provides a blueprint for future regeneration plans.
“Make it Kilmarnock submissions to the Scottish Government for support through the Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) scheme, JESSICA (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas) and Enterprise Areas have so far been unsuccessful.”
Councillors were set to the discuss the Make It Kilmarnock board as part of an examination of a future strategy for economic development.
That includes a restructure of the successful business support unit to remove two posts and replace them with one new assistant business adviser to save £65,470.
A post of Make it Kilmarnock Co-ordinator could also be removed and integrated into other council services and the Kilmarnock Town Centre manager role looks set to be changed to include Cumnock.