When I first moved back to Scotland from Australia, about 25 years ago, I initially stayed with my grandparents.

Every couple of days, my gran would catch the bus into Ayr to go and get her “messages”. In those days, Ayr was buzzing. The length and breadth of the High Street was jam-packed with retail choice.

Everybody looks back on those days with treasured memories and nostalgia. There is a demand to “get the towns back the way they were.” But the hard, cold truth is our towns will never be the same as they once were.

Over the past 25 years, we have seen a steady decline in our town centres, not only Ayr but across the whole of Scotland as they have faced challenges of changing and evolving retail patterns.

We have seen retail industrial estates open up outwith town centres; The main supermarkets have based themselves on the outskirts of towns; and of course, there is the increase in online shopping meaning you can stay at home and get everything you need.

I believe that rather than this being a point of sadness, it instead gives us an exciting opportunity to rethink how our town centres serve our communities and take a new fresh approach.

We just need to take a look at Prestwick to find a thriving town centre with an array of retail offerings.

The reason Prestwick has succeeded where other towns in Scotland have failed is because it takes an individualised approach that serves the needs of the community.

This makes it an attractive place for new businesses to operate, and in doing so, grow the local economy.

Town centres such as Ayr are not going to be transformed overnight.

But there needs to be an ambitious vision and long-term plan in place which all parties must be involved in to drive progress forward, regardless if they are in administration or opposition.

I was elected as a councillor in 2017 and a lot of energy, time and investment was dedicated to planning to transform Ayr Town Centre.

The Ayr Town Centre Regeneration group was set up with councillors of all parties invited to contribute to the long-term plan.

Sadly, opposition councillors did not attend any meetings to contribute.

When we committed to building the much-needed leisure centre in the town centre, we saw the private sector have the confidence to invest locally and make plans to transform the Kyle Centre into a cinema complex.

This would have been transformational to Ayr Town Centre and converted a huge chunk of empty retail into leisure.

Unfortunately, as too often is the case, opposition parties opposed any plans for this development, and now in administration they have cancelled the leisure centre project.

At this present time, there is no long-term plan to transform Ayr Town Centre and another “consultation” has been launched – although this work was already done back in 2018.

For the sake of Ayr and its people, I call on all politicians, regardless of their political colour to work together and see our town thrive once again.