COUNCIL bosses are to pour the remainder of the money they received to support businesses hit by the pandemic into Ayr town centre.

The former Odeon cinema building in Burns Statue Square, set to reopen later this year as the Astoria under the ownership of Merlin Cinemas, is among the buildings set to benefit from a share of the cash.

Last November it was revealed that South Ayrshire Council had £750,000 of discretionary funding given to it by the Scottish Government.

In the wake of the Station Hotel fire, and subsequent road closure, councillors agreed to fund a £389,000 programme to support Ayr businesses affected and increase footfall.

The bulk of the fund, £250,000, was used for the business relief scheme, with £50,000 to fund events and activities to attract people to the town centre, £50,000 for a ‘targeted and extensive marketing campaign’ and £39,000 to offset the income lost through the removal of parking charges throughout the festive period.

The business relief scheme was undersubscribed, with grants totalling £196,000 of the £250,000 available.

Despite these efforts, there was a dip in footfall of 2.6 percent during that period.

This week, the authority's cabinet will be asked to approve the £56,000 of that original £389,000 allocation, together with the remaining £361,000 in the discretionary fund – a total of £417,000.

Councillors will hear that this money would be used for four specific programmes.

Assistant director of communities, George Hunter, states in the report to cabinet: “The proposals outlined below are mainly aligned with the Ayr Town Centre Framework

“They will collectively support businesses to deliver against core town centre regeneration objectives.”

The proposed programme comprises the 'Gateway to Ayr' shopfront improvement scheme (£222,000), a grant for the external refurbishment of the former Odeon cinema (£70,000), regeneration work and business support in Newmarket Street (£90,000), and support for activities and events at the Cutty Sark Centre and the Grain Exchange (£35,000).

In his report Mr Hunter continues: “It is proposed to provide grant support to eligible business property owners and tenants within the Town Centre LDP2 Retail Core and Conservation Area for enhancements to façade and shop frontages.

“Priority will be given to projects that will enhance the complete front elevation of the building.”

“It is proposed to provide grant support of £70,000 to Merlin Cinemas Limited as a contribution towards the cost of external refurbishment of the former Odeon cinema facility.

“This building has significant prominence to the main gateway to the town and externally is in a state of disrepair.”

“It is proposed to provide grant support of £90,000 towards a programme of regeneration and business support activities in Newmarket Street, Ayr.

“The activities will be delivered in collaboration with the recently constituted Newmarket Street Traders group and will focus on street deep clean, branding/signage, urban dressing, and lighting improvements.

“It is proposed to provide flexible funding to support the delivery of a range of events, activities and exhibitions which would drive a significant increase in footfall and generate income. ”

The cabinet will consider the report on Tuesday, March 12.