Girvan regeneration firm Ailsa Horizons shuts down
The Daily Record, by Sarah McDonald
A Girvan regeneration agency which was considered the backbone of the community has closed its doors for the last time.
Ailsa Horizons ceased trading with immediate effect last week after a board meeting left four members of staff unemployed, following financial difficulties within the company.
In its six years, the social enterprise – which is owned by members drawn from throughout South Ayrshire – supported the restoration of buildings, and the growth of groups and businesses, serving communities from Ballantrae to Prestwick, often delivering services without charge, seeking financial support to cover costs.
Only last year, Ailsa Horizons won a £1.39 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to re-establish the former Davidson Cottage Hospital at the heart of the Girvan community as a new enterprise centre.
It was initially built upon the foundations of a project that ran from 2002-2009 at South Ayrshire Council and then operated as an independent organisation that brought individuals and organisations together, predominantly within the Carrick region.
Ailsa Horizons’ Stuart Lindsay said: “As the former chief executive of the company, I have been more aware than most of the difficulties the company has faced.
“The company’s finances have always been really tight and we have managed to get through difficulties over the years.
“I am really disappointed that the board felt that they had to make the decision that they took on Friday evening, it has a huge impact on myself and the staff,
“I am even more disappointed since the decision leaves all of the groups and organisations that we have been working with in the lurch.”
A statement issued by staff at Ailsa Horizons added: “The board’s decision last Friday evening came as a surprise and we found ourselves immediately unemployed.
“In the circumstances, we hope that all of the community groups and organisations that we have been working with will understand that our immediate priority has to be to try to sort out our personal finances.
“Each of us is committed to working with communities and, assuming we can get through the difficulties caused by the board’s decision, we hope to be able to support those communities again – even if that’s only in a personal capacity.”
Board member of Ailsa Horizons, John McDowell told the Post: “The board has been following the financial status of Ailsa Horizons which unfortunately lost two major contracts last year, along with the absence of a new project coming forward.
“It was a difficult decision under consideration for some time and the question arose on the future of Ailsa Horizons when the figures were presented and it was discussed what should happen. It is devastating for employees and a blow to the community as they have done a lot of great work over the last few years and in that respect it was a difficult decision which has been under consideration for some time.
“It is devastating, but the company’s finances has always been really tight from the earliest days.”
Chairperson of the Carrick Community Councils Forum, Peter Mason added: “I’m extremely disappointed and we are now looking at programmes that will benefit the community.
“We had no warning that this was going to happen and now the question remains of what happens to the groups involved.
“It was not just work in Carrick but throughout the wider area of South Ayrshire, Ailsa Horizons were the driving force behind many community projects.”
Councillor Alec Clark added: “I think the demise will be a sad loss to Carrick, they will be missed.
“As a local company that helps groups and individuals on a regular basis, free of charge, it is really sad and a blow to the community.”
Head of communities at South Ayrshire Council, Claire Monaghan said: “Ailsa Horizons made a strong contribution in the Carrick area for many years and we are sorry to hear that they have ceased trading. We wish the staff well for the future.
“The council will work with communities to see how we can support on-going initiatives.”