Communities Minister visits Irvine Bay

The Minister for Housing and Communities, Alex Neil MSP, whose brief includes regeneration, visited Irvine Bay today to see for himself the work being carried out to regenerate the area.

In particular, he visited Kilwinning to inspect work underway to breathe new life into the town centre, and met with local people who are undergoing fully paid training as part of the regeneration work.

Communities Minister Visits Irvine Bay 1005179

Mr Neil heard a summary of the ongoing work from Patrick Wiggins, Chief Executive of Irvine Bay. This included an outline of projects underway in the five towns of Kilwinning, Irvine, Ardrossan, Saltcoats, and Stevenston.

But the major part of his visit was a trip to Kilwinning to see the £2.75 million regeneration of the Main Street. This work is designed to deliver improvements to the retail, commercial and pedestrian streetscape, to improve access and to increase safety through enhanced lighting.

Alex Neil MSP meeting local trainees working as part of Kilwinning Main Street construction teamDuring the visit he met with the trainees who are benefiting from the targeted recruitment and training built in to the contract by the regeneration company. In total, 12 trainees will receive 312 weeks of training. This will allow them to gain vocational qualifications in civil engineering services.

Mr Wiggins said: “The work we are doing has to be rounded in its approach. While we obviously have a focus on enhancing and renewing the physical and built environment of the area to increase the prosperity of the area, we also believe it is vital to ensure local people benefit whenever possible – either through a better environment, through business opportunities, or through the ability to improve their skills and employability.”

Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil said: “The Scottish Government is taking action, backed by millions of pounds to regenerate Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas.

“We want to enrich communities by supporting initiatives that will make a lasting transformation of places to benefit those who live and work there.

“Irvine Bay Regeneration Company is to be congratulated for spearheading the transformation of five towns in North Ayrshire, which will boost the local economy and make these areas more attractive and prosperous.”

The trainees are:

David Bacon age 22 from Ardrossan

David has worked mostly in factories and on short-term contracts since he left school. He is thoroughly enjoying the training this construction opportunity is providing and hopes the skills and qualification he will achieve will lead to full-time and stable employment within the industry.

He said: “This is the first job I’ve had where I wake up before the alarm and look forward to going to work.”

Euan Hume age 21 from Kilwinning

Euan took a computing course at college then got a job in a call centre and also some green-keeping. He is enjoying learning new skills and hopes to get some stability in his career along with new skills to offer an employer.

Mark O’Neill from Saltcoats

Mark is a mature trainee who comes to the contract after several short-term jobs in the construction industry. He appreciates learning new skills and also the opportunity to achieve a qualification that he hopes could lead to better employment opportunities than he had before.

Robert Watson age 21 from Ardrossan

Robert served an apprenticeship with a tyre company then spent some time labouring and also working in a scrap-yard. He is enjoying doing something completely different and hopes it will lead to a permanent job where he can put the skills learned in civil engineering into practice.

Craig Paterson age 27 from Kilwinning

Craig worked in Hunterston nuclear facility for eight years until his contract ended. After that he did some work for a scaffolding company. He is enjoying the challenge of a completely new experience and is keen to transfer the skills to permanent employment in future.

Daniel Sloss age 26 from Stevenston

Daniel sees this contract as a great opportunity and is looking forward to the prospect of continuing in the industry developing his skills and gaining experience.

Gerry Miller Training Manager, Land Engineering Ltd said: “This on-site training programme allows our trainees to learn new skills while working on a live project they can take pride in. They are all enjoying the experience and are keen to learn and make the most of the opportunity to improve their long term quality employment prospects. We will do all we can to help them achieve this.”