The residents of Newton say they have been all but abandoned by South Ayrshire Council.

Lacking in community facilities, locals were angered to find that the site they say was promised to them for a new games facility was being considered for a travellers’ halting site.

While that move has since been ruled out, Newton Tenants and Residents Association says it is just another example of their poor treatment by the local authority, in one of the most deprived areas in the country.

Helen Russell, Secretary of the Association, said that she is worried that council bureaucracy could see them miss out on the money needed to install a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) on council land off Green St Lane.

While the group has been awarded £10,000 under South Ayrshire Charitable Trust, they must meet two conditions, one to match that funding and another to secure written permission from SAC to use their land.

She said that the council had indicated they would have no problem signing off on this permission, only to stall and say that it would require further approval.

While waiting on progress, the association heard about the proposals for the traveller site on the same piece of land. There had been no consultation or heads up to the community, she added.

The association, which represents one of the most deprived areas in Scotland, said it had only managed to get the charitable grant from the council, following the intervention of Conservative Councillor Martin Dowey.

Helen, whose family have lived in the area for generations, said that they had been told getting the official permission for the site would be a formality.

“They said it seemed fine and that one of the officers would sign off on it,” she explained.

“Then all of a sudden something else happened and another officer had to sign. It got held back and held back and then, all of a sudden, this…”

‘This’ was the news that the site they say had been promised to them was being considered by the council for the travellers’ site.

This is not the only issue residents have raised. The one swing park in the area is waiting on supplies to make it usable.

Association Chairman, Andy McKissock said: “We are getting rid of all the industrial areas now and getting these new builds. Historically it always was a working man’s scheme, turning it back into one.”

Residents say that, with more housing being built in Newton, the need for community facilities is even greater. However, the only community facility recognised on the council’s own plans is the cemetery.

One resident, Andy Stevenson, pointed out that the streets around the industrial areas were packed during the week and presented real danger to children with no safe places to play.

“Look at all the cars, where are the weans to go?”, he asked.

Andy McKissock, who is also Vice Chair of Whitletts Vics football club, said keeping youngsters safe and giving them a sporting chance is vital.

He said: “We intend to, via the MUGA, tie in with Whitletts, who have a player pathway from four year olds up to 20 year olds, women’s teams and disabled teams.

“It is about full inclusion and that is what we intend to do down here.”

Newton has become a home for dozens of smaller industrial units, garages and workshops. However, despite the recent development of council housing on Waggon Road and other developments, the council’s own local development plan admits that it doesn’t have any plan for providing the people of the area with facilities.

The LDP states: “While the role of Newton as an industrial area is important, the relatively low land values and historic loss of housing has, in some cases, resulted in low levels of investment in building maintenance and not enough people to support activities and facilities.”

When it does look to the future, no mention is made of residents, with talking points on business and property needs without ‘changing the area use and character’.

Understandably, in a period of struggling finances, the focus is on ‘supporting the continued development and expansion of the Port of Ayr.

The LDP states: “Large-scale port activities, coal and wind turbine movements and scrap operations will continue as an important part of the port’s work, and we will protect them from development that is unrelated to how the port works.

“Equally, the port operator should aim to minimise the effect on
surrounding commercial and residential uses within the Newton area.”