South Ayrshire is set to become one of Scotland’s first ‘age friendly' communities.

The authority is known for having a higher proportion of older people than most areas of Scotland, with more than one in 10 residents (11.9 per cent) aged over 75.

That figure is expected to rise to one in five over the next two decades.



By joining the Age Friendly Community Network, South Ayrshire Council says it aims to support an ‘ageing well’ approach, with a focus on areas such as housing, transport, health care and social participation.

A report to South Ayrshire Council’s cabinet said that being an "age friendly community" would make it possible for people to continue to stay living in their homes, participate in the activities that they value, and contribute to their communities, for as long as possible.

“Being Age-friendly means designing services and facilities with older people, not for them,” the report stated.

Council leader Martin Dowey told the cabinet's members: “We have got an ageing population here in South Ayrshire, so it is good to be in front of the curve instead of behind the curve.

“We need to embrace our ageing population and make the best of the lovely scenery in South Ayrshire.

“That is why people come here to retire. I think it is a good thing that we are getting everyone involved. ”

A delve into other data (see thetable at the foot of this article) sheds more light on the changing balance between generations over the last two decades.

The Scottish Parliament constituency of Ayr, which covers Ayr, Prestwick and Troon, had 14,876 residents aged over 70 in 2021 - almost 20 per cent of its population of 74,639.

The number of young people under 19 years old is 13,925 - around 18 per cent of the population. 

It has often been claimed that rural populations are ageing faster than those in cities and towns - but South Ayrshire's figures suggest that may not be the case locally.

However, the figures from the Ayr constituency and its neighbouring Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley seat, which covers Girvan, Maybole, Coylton and Dundonald and East Ayrshire towns like Cumnock, Mauchline and Dalmellington, show this is not so straightforward.

The neighbouring Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley Holyrood constituency - which takes in communities such as Girvan, Maybole, Coylton and Dundonald, as well as Cumnock, Mauchline and Dalmellington in neighbouring East Ayrshire - had just 2,000 more residents than the Ayr constituency in 2021.

However, the number of people in the more rural constituency aged over 70 was considerably lower than in Ayr - 12,675 out of 76,603, or a proportion of 16.5 per cent.

At the other end of the scale, there were 15,906 under 19s in Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, just over 20 per cent.

Looking back even further reveals the shifting balance between the two age groups is even more stark.

In 2001, there were 6,000 more under 19s than over-70s in the Ayr seat - but by 2011 the gap shrunk to 3,600.

And by 2021 the tables had been turned, with over-70s outnumbering under-19s by almost 1,000.

Parts of Ayr have some of the highest populations over 65 in the whole of Scotland, according the the National Records of Scotland statistics agency - with a proportion of 54 per cent in Ayr South Harbour and Town Centre, and 49 per cent in Doonfoot.

The Age Friendly Communities network is being developed by the Scottish Older People’s Assembly (SOPA).

This approach focuses on eight essential features and has been used extensively in England.

The report outlines the impact of an ageing population, stating: “This creates real collective challenges for all Community Planning Partners although there are also real associated opportunities.

“Essentially the Age Friendly Community approach considers eight fields or themes that impact upon older people’s lives and seeks to build a shared approach (including working with older people themselves) to create the best possible outcomes for the population.

These ‘fields’ include housing; transportation; outdoor spaces and buildings; communities and health care; social participation; respect and social inclusion; civic participation and employment; and communication and information.

The council has also added Age Concern Scotland and SOPA to its list of approved outside bodies, and has named the authority's depute provost, Mary Kilpatrick, as its 'older person’s champion'.

The cabinet agreed to apply to become a member of the 'age friendly community network.

Increase in age by Scottish Parliamentary Constituency


Year            Total             Over 70       Under 19

2021             74,639         14, 876        13, 925

2010             76,476         12,190          15,714

2001             76,930         11,179           17,146

Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

Year            Total             Over 70       Under 19

2021            76,603          12,675         15,906

2010            76,701           9,922          17,220

2001            76,930           8,634          18,720