East Ayrshire

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Coordinates: 55°30′N 4°18′W / 55.5°N 4.3°W / 55.5; -4.3

East Ayrshire
Aest Ayrshire
Siorrachd Àir an Ear
Coat of arms of East Ayrshire
Official logo of East Ayrshire
East Ayrshire in Scotland.svg
Coordinates: 55°27′07″N 4°15′52″W / 55.4518496°N 4.2644478°W / 55.4518496; -4.2644478
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryScotland
Lieutenancy areaAyrshire and Arran
Admin HQLondon Road, Kilmarnock
 • BodyEast Ayrshire Council
 • Council LeaderDouglas Reid (Scottish National Party)
 • ProvostCllr Jim Todd[1]
 • Chief ExecutiveEddie Fraser[2]
 • MPsAlan Brown
Allan Dorans
 • MSPsWillie Coffey
Elena Whitham
 • Total487 sq mi (1,262 km2)
 • RankRanked 14th
 (mid-2019 est.)
 • Total121,840
 • RankRanked 16th
 • Density250/sq mi (97/km2)
ONS codeS12000008
ISO 3166 codeGB-EAY
WebsiteEast Ayrshire Council

East Ayrshire (Scots: Aest Ayrshire; Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Àir an Ear) is one of thirty-two council areas of Scotland. It shares borders with Dumfries and Galloway, East Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire. The headquarters of the council are located on London Road, Kilmarnock.[3] With South Ayrshire and the mainland areas of North Ayrshire, it formed the former county of Ayrshire.

The wider geographical region of East Ayrshire has a population of 122,100 at the last 2011 census, making it the 16th most populous local authority in Scotland.[4] Spanning a geographical area of 1,262 km2 (487 sq mi), East Ayrshire is the 14th-largest local authority in Scotland in terms of geographical area. The majority of the population of East Ayrshire live within and surrounding the main town, Kilmarnock, having a population of over 46,000 people at the 2011 census. Other large population areas in East Ayrshire include Cumnock, the second-largest town in terms of population and area, and smaller towns and villages such as Stewarton, Darvel and Hurlford.

The largest school in Scotland, the Robert Burns Academy, is located in East Ayrshire's second largest town, Cumnock.[5]


Kilmarnock is the largest town, followed by Cumnock; other small main towns are New Cumnock and Stewarton. The area was formed in 1996, from the former Kilmarnock and Loudoun and Cumnock and Doon Valley districts. Kilmarnock is the county's capital and, also, largest town. The former Kilmarnock and Loudoun District Council was also twinned with Sukhumi, Abkhazia. Following a review of links this link is now considered as a friendship link.[6]

Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Cill Mhearnaig agus Lughdan in Scottish Gaelic) was one of nineteen local government districts in the Strathclyde region of Scotland from 1975 to 1996. The district was formed by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 from part of the county of Ayrshire, namely:

Apart from the former burghs the district included the towns of Hurlford and Kilmaurs.

The district was abolished in 1996 by the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, which replaced the regions and districts with unitary council areas. The district's area was combined with that of Cumnock and Doon Valley to form the East Ayrshire council area. The name Kilmarnock and Loudoun continues to be used for a constituency of the House of Commons and covering a similar area, a Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency of the Scottish Parliament.

The Jougs in Kilmaurs in 1900, served as the council chamber for the Burgh of Kilmaurs


The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889 established a uniform system of county councils in Scotland and realigned the boundaries of many of Scotland's counties. Subsequently, Ayr county council was created in 1890. In 1930 the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929 was implemented. This re-designated the burghs into large burghs and small burghs. This new categorisation influenced the level of autonomy that the Burghs enjoyed from the county council. The act also abolished the parish as a unit of local government in Scotland. In Ayrshire in excess of 30 parishes were consolidated into ten district councils. The District Councils were Ayr, Cumnock, Dalmellington, Girvan, Irvine, Kilbirnie, Kilmarnock, Maybole, Newmilns and Saltcoats.

In May 1975 the county council was abolished and its functions were transferred to Strathclyde Regional Council. The county area was divided between four new districts within the two-tier Strathclyde region: Cumnock and Doon Valley, Cunninghame, Kilmarnock and Loudoun and Kyle and Carrick. The Cunninghame district included the Isle of Arran, Great Cumbrae and Little Cumbrae, which had until then been administered as part of the County of Bute.

In April 1996 the two-tier system of regions and districts was abolished and Ayrshire was divided between the unitary council areas of East Ayrshire (covering the area of the former Kilmarnock & Loudoun District and Cumnock & Doon Valley District), North Ayrshire (covering the area of the former Cunninghame District Council) and South Ayrshire (covering the area of the former Kyle and Carrick District). There are many early settlements within East Ayrshire. The Burns Monument Centre and Dick Institute also hold local newspapers from 1834 to date (some have been indexed), together with a selection of maps. The Burns Monument Centre holds local photographs and postcards. Microfiche/film readers are available within the Burns Monument Centre and the Dick Institute.

Economy and performance[edit]

Agriculture contributes a large part to East Ayrshire's economy

Historically, like many parts of Scotland, the economy of East Ayrshire was largely dependent on industries such as coal mining, textiles and general manufacturing which largely fell into decline in Scotland during the 1970s and 1980s.[7] Certain parts of East Ayrshire, particularly in the south of the region, such as Auchinleck, Bellsbank and Dalmellington have failed to recover from the economic hardship caused by the decline and gradual closure of traditional industries that provided employments within these areas. East Ayrshire Council has pledged £200 million in economic recovery funds to support communities and employment opportunities, however, some communities continue to struggle with developing their local economies.[7]

Whilst in towns such as Kilmarnock, the administrative centre for East Ayrshire Council has encouraged new businesses and industry, Kilmarnock has saw a gradual decline in manufacturing performance in recent years. In 2009, Diageo, owner of Kilmarnock founded brand Johnnie Walker announced the proposed closure of the bottling plant facility in Hill Street, and in 2012, Diageo closed the facility with the loss of 700 jobs.[8]

Food and drink as well as local tourism provides a large sum to the economy of East Ayrshire, with visitor attractions such as Dean Castle, Palace Theatre and Dumfries House generating large means of income for the area.[7] In rural communities of the authority, agriculture continues to be the leading sources of employment and economic productivity, particularly in the southern communities of the area.[7] The public sector is the largest employer within the area, with areas of the council such as Education, Social Services and NHS Ayrshire and Arran being responsible for a large number of employees delivering various areas of council operation and services.[7] In 2012, 279 new companies were created within East Ayrshire and are supported by the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce. There was a drop in the number of new business developments being created the following year in 2013.[7] Kilmarnock is home to the Halo Urban Generation (Kilmarnock) Ltd. company which was founded by Marie Macklin CBE, with a focus on providing opportunities for new businesses within the area,[9] and with an estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) revenue of £205 million to the Scottish economy, it also supports 1,500 jobs within the area.[9]

The unemployment rate within East Ayrshire in November 2013 stood at 11%, higher than the national average in Scotland of 8%, with 17% of the working age population claiming benefit, again, higher than the national average for Scotland.[9]

Politics and governance[edit]

East Ayrshire Council
East Ayrshire Council composition
CommitteesCouncil Committee, Grants, JNC for Teaching Staff, Planning, Recruitment, Local Review
14 / 32
10 / 32
4 / 32
3 / 32
1 / 32
Single transferable vote
Last election
5 May 2022
Next election
May 2027
Meeting place
East Ayrshire Council Headquarters, Kilmarnock.jpg
Council HQ, London Road, Kilmarnock
Eddie Fraser, Chief Executive since 2021

East Ayrshire's political structure currently consists of a minority administration headed by the Scottish National Party (SNP) which was established following the East Ayrshire Council election of 2017.[10] The current chief executive officer of East Ayrshire Council is Eddie Fraser, who acts as a representative of the council and as a link between East Ayrshire Council parliamentary business and local residents of the authority.[11] The current leader of East Ayrshire Council is Councillor Douglas Reid, supported by the Depute Leader Elena Whitham, both of the SNP party.[12] The provost (Mayor) of East Ayrshire is Jim Todd who has been in office since May 2022.[1] Todd is supported in his capacity as Provost by Claire Leitch, Depute Provost.[1]

Eddie Fraser was appointed Chief Executive of East Ayrshire Council in 2020, and took up post on January 15, 2021, following the retirement of Fiona Lees.[2]

Council Executive[edit]

The current composition of the East Ayrshire Council executive management team consists of:[13]

Designation Person
Chief Executive Eddie Fraser
Depute Chief Executive Katie Kelly
Director of Health and Social Care Craig Mcarthur
Chief Governance Officer David Mitchell
Head of Children's Health, Care and Justice Services Marion MacAulay
Chief Financial Officer Joe McLachlan
Chief Education Officer and Head of Schools Linda McAulay-Griffiths


Constituency Member Party
Kilmarnock and Loudoun Alan Brown SNP
Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock Allan Dorans SNP

Scottish Parliament[edit]

Constituency MSPs[edit]

Constituency Member Party
Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley Willie Coffey SNP
Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley Elena Whitham SNP

Regional List MSPs[edit]

Constituency Member Party
South Scotland Emma Harper Scottish National
Craig Hoy Conservative
Brian Whittle Conservative
Sharon Dowey Conservative
Carol Mochan Labour
Martin Whitfield Labour
Colin Smyth Labour

Local government[edit]

Map of 2017 election results


As of 2017, the council area is divided into nine multi-member wards returning 32 members, composed as follows:[14][15][16]


Party Members
2003 2007 2012 2017 2022
SNP 8 14 15 14 14
Labour 23 14 14 9 10
Conservative 1 3 2 6 4
The Rubbish Party 1 1
Independent 0 1 1 2 3

Economy and Skills[edit]


East Ayrshire currently has nine secondary schools, forty-three primary schools, four schools which cater for children with additional support needs, thirty-three early education childhood centres and three children's houses.[17] Kilmarnock Academy, situated on Sutherland Drive in the New Farm Loch area of Kilmarnock, is one of only two schools in the world to have educated two Nobel laureates: Alexander Fleming and John Boyd Orr.[18] However, both men attended Kilmarnock Academy at an earlier site when it was located on North Hamilton Street.[19]

In September 2017, current Head of Education within East Ayrshire, Alan Ward, announced his retirement from the post of Head of Education after two years. Ward will retire from his post in early 2018.[20] In December 2017, it was announced that after a nationwide recruitment campaign to appoint a replacement for Alan Ward, Linda-McAulay Griffiths, Head Teacher at Loudoun Academy had been appointed as the new Head of Education for East Ayrshire. She assumed the post of Head of Education in early 2018.[21]

From late 2015 into early 2016, the terminology Educational and Social Services was phased out within the council and replaced with Economy and Skills.[22]


Below is a list of current Early Childhood Centres, primary schools, secondary schools and special educational establishments currently open and operating within East Ayrshire and run by East Ayrshire Council.

Early Childhood Centres[edit]

  • Cairns Early Childhood Centre
  • Dean Park Nursery
  • Flowerbank Early Childhood Centre
  • Gaelic Early Childhood Centre
  • Gargieston Early Childhood Centre
  • Hillbank Early Childhood Centre
  • Onthank Early Childhood Centre
  • Riccarton Early Childhood Centre
  • Shortlees Early Childhood Centre
  • St Andrew's Early Childhood Centre
  • Auchinleck Early Childhood Centre
  • Barshare Early Childhood Centre
  • Bellsbank Early Childhood Centre
  • Catrine Early Childhood Centre
  • Crosshouse Early Childhood Centre
  • Dalmellington Early Childhood Centre
  • Dalrymple Early Childhood Centre
  • Darvel Early Childhood Centre
  • Drongan Early Childhood Centre
  • Dunlop Early Childhood Centre
  • Galston Early Childhood Centre
  • Greenmill Early Childhood Centre
  • Hurlford Early Childhood Centre
  • Kilmaurs Early Childhood Centre
  • Lainshaw Early Childhood Centre
  • Littlemill Early Childhood Centre
  • Logan Early Childhood Centre
  • Mauchline Early Childhood Centre
  • Muirkirk Early Childhood Centre
  • Nether Robertland Early Childhood Centre
  • New Cumnock Early Childhood Centre
  • Newmillns Early Childhood Centre
  • Patna Early Childhood Centre
  • James Hamilton Early Childhood Centre

Primary schools[edit]

  • Annanhill Primary School
  • Auchinleck Primary School
  • Bellsbank Primary School
  • Catrine Primary School
  • Crosshouse Primary School
  • Dalmellington Primary School
  • Dalrymple Primary School
  • Darvel Primary School
  • Drongan Primary School
  • Dunlop Primary School
  • Fenwick Primary School
  • Galston Primary School
  • Gargieston Primary School
  • Hillhead Primary School
  • Hurlford Primary School
  • James Hamilton Primary School
  • Kilmaurs Primary School
  • Lainshaw Primary School
  • Littlemill Primary School
  • Loanhead Primary School
  • Lochnorris Primary School
  • Logan Primary School
  • Mauchline Primary School
  • Mount Carmel Primary School
  • Muirkirk Primary School
  • Nether Robertland Primary School
  • Netherthird Primary School
  • New Cumnock Primary School
  • Newmilns Primary School
  • Ochiltree Primary School
  • Onthank Primary School
  • Patna Primary School
  • Sgoil na Coille Nuaidh
  • Shortlees Primary School
  • Sorn Primary School
  • St. Andrew's Primary School
  • St. Patrick's Primary School
  • St. Sophia's Primary School
  • St. Xavier's Primary School
  • Whatriggs Primary School

Secondary schools[edit]

Further Education[edit]

The new Ayrshire College campus opened in Kilmarnock in October 2016

Kilmarnock is home to a campus of Ayrshire College, which provides a range of courses to adults as well as school-aged pupils. It is funded by East Ayrshire council and other educational providers. The campus opened in October 2016 in a new, £53 million, building on the site of the Johnnie Walker bottling plant.[23] It superseded the Kilmarnock College building on Holehouse Road.

East Ayrshire is not far from the Ayr campus building of the University of the West of Scotland, and Ayrshire College works with the University to provide opportunities for students.[7]

Update of school estates[edit]

New build Kilmarnock Academy, opened in 2018

Since the take over of the council in 2007 by the Scottish National Party, East Ayrshire Council has invested heavily in the modernisation programmes of schools throughout East Ayrshire as part of the Scotland's Schools for the Future programme. The first school in East Ayrshire to benefit as part of this programme was most notably Grange Academy which, in 2008, was re-housed in a new state of the art school which was constructed adjacent to the existing school building which was constructed in the 1960s. This programme of extensive modernisation paved the way for the advancement in plans to modernise nearby St Joseph's Academy in Kilmarnock, which, like Grange Academy, was constructed during the 1960s and in need of restoration repairs. When opened, St. Joseph's Academy also included St. Andrew's Primary School on the same campus, similar in style to the way in which both Grange Academy and Annanhill Primary School share a building within the same campus.

In 2013, East Ayrshire Council put forward proposals that would see the merger of both Kilmarnock Academy and James Hamilton Academy. After a period of public consultation, it was decided to merge both schools along with the merger of both New Farm Primary School and Early Childhood Centre and Silverwood Primary School to create a new single primary school and Early Childhood Centre on the same site as the secondary school.[24] The new super school will be located adjacent to the site that currently houses the existing James Hamilton Academy building, meaning Kilmarnock Academy will move from its current location where it has been since the 1800s.[25] The programme of merging the secondary and primary schools in scheduled to take place in March 2018 for pupils moving into the new building in April 2018. Both schools will be situated on the William McIlvanney Campus, named after Kilmarnock-born author William McIlvanney, who died in 2015.[26]

Whilst many of the school estates in East Ayrshire have been rebuilt, East Ayrshire Council has also invested heavily in the restoration processes of older schools, such as Hurlford Primary School and Loanhead Primary School. Hurlford Primary had fallen into such a state of disrepair that parts of the ceiling began to fall into classrooms, leading the council to move all pupils to nearby Loudoun Academy to allow work to progress quicker.[27] Many parents of children attending the school raised concerns over East Ayrshire Council's commitment to the school building and the safety of its pupils, leading to much public backlash from parents towards the councils.[28] A £2.3 million refurbishment programme has also been announced for Loanhead Primary School, which dates back to 1905 with the foundation stone being laid by Andrew Carnegie.[29] These works will see the creation of a new Early Childhood Centre to improve the access to quality early years education in the town centre, as well as refurbishment and safety measures made to the structure of the building and the roof.[30]

Johnnie Walker Bond in Kilmarnock is home to East Ayrshire's central Social Work department

Social Services[edit]

In recent years, East Ayrshire has worked towards greater integration of the educational and social work departments to ensure smoother transparency between teachers, early years practitioners, Head Teachers of primary and secondary schools and Head of Centre's of Early Childhood Centres. Throughout East Ayrshire, there are four centralised social work departments, with the main HQ being located within the former Johnnie Walker Bond building in the Strand, Kilmarnock.[31] Other social work departments include a base in Dalmellington, Cumnock and Galston.[31] These services include social work services for children, families and older citizens.

Social work services within East Ayrshire also include the locality service which aims to work with children and young people to assess, plan, develop and deliver a range of supports to children, young people and their families. This is done in partnership with other agencies in order to enhance their social skills, improve relationships and promote positive lifestyles.[32] The Vibrant Communities services, established in 2003, was a unique service at the time of its development, aiming to empower communities to live healthier and happier lives. Vibrant Communities services include youth work, early intervention, services for older people, sports, active schools development, community-led action planning programmes as well as the transfer of community assets. The Vibrant Communities approach is being widely recognised as informing the Community Empowerment agenda across Scotland and the wider United Kingdom.[33]


Kilmarnock is the largest settlement in East Ayrshire with a population of over 46,000 and is home to the HQ for East Ayrshire Council
Cumnock is East Ayrshire's second-largest settlement in terms of area size and population

Towns and villages[edit]

Places of interest[edit]

Dumfries House located in Cumnock has developed itself as a major local tourist attraction
Dean Castle, Kilmarnock

Council awards and nominations[edit]

In 2017, East Ayrshire Council was named as the nationwide UK Council of the Year due to the council's approaches to strategic improvement across settlements and the councils approaches to understanding and acting on local needs across the authority.[34] In the year previous, in 2016, East Ayrshire Council was awarded and recognised for their efforts towards recycling, highlighting the council's efforts within the recycling and resource management sector.[35]

In December 2015, Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire's largest town and political and economic hub, was awarded the title of Scotland's Most Improved Town due to efforts towards town regeneration and restoration.[36] In 2006, Kilmarnock was granted the title as the UK's Most Friendliest Shopping Town, which in recent times has seen the town and council try to use this to resurge the town centre for social pleasure, shopping and living.[37]


  1. ^ a b c "Provost and Depute Provost". 26 May 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Eddie Fraser appointed as new Chief Executive - East Ayrshire Council News". 30 November 2020.
  3. ^ "East Ayrshire Council Social Services , Council Headquarters, London Road, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire KA3 7BU".
  4. ^ "Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Scotland's biggest school will be finished tomorrow in East Ayrshire". 8 October 2020.
  6. ^ "TOWN TWINNING UPDATE - Report by Depute Chief Executive/Executive Director of Corporate Support" (PDF). East Ayrshire Council. 5 September 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "East Ayrshire's Economic Development Strategy 2014/2025" (PDF). East Ayrshire Council.
  8. ^ "Johnnie Walker leaves Kilmarnock". BBC News.
  9. ^ a b c "HALO Kilmarnock, Scotland | Urban Renewal Project | HALO Scotland Urban Regeneration".
  10. ^ "East Ayrshire Council - COSLA". www.cosla.gov.uk. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  11. ^ "Chief Executive · East Ayrshire Council".
  12. ^ "Leader and Depute Leader of Council · East Ayrshire Council". www.east-ayrshire.gov.uk. 24 May 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  13. ^ "Executive management team · East Ayrshire Council".
  14. ^ "United Kingdom: Scotland | Council Areas and Electoral Wards". City Population. 30 June 2019. Retrieved 4 May 2021.
  15. ^ 5th Reviews of Electoral Arrangements Maps, Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland
  16. ^ Council Area: East Ayrshire, Scottish Government Statistics
  17. ^ "Educational and Social Services - East Ayrshire Council". Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  18. ^ "kilmarnockacademy.co.uk". kilmarnockacademy.co.uk. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  19. ^ https://www.kilmarnockhistory.co.uk/cm-content/files/Former%20pupils%20master%20(002).pdf[bare URL PDF]
  20. ^ "Council's Head of Education announces retirement - East Ayrshire Council News". www.east-ayrshire.gov.uk. 12 September 2017.
  21. ^ "New Head of Education to build on solid foundation of achievement - East Ayrshire Council News". www.east-ayrshire.gov.uk. 5 December 2017.
  22. ^ "Economy and Skills". www.eastayrshirecommunityplan.org. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  23. ^ "First Minister opens £53 million Ayrshire College Kilmarnock campus".
  24. ^ "New Kilmarnock school consultation · East Ayrshire Council". www.east-ayrshire.gov.uk. 5 July 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  25. ^ Rutherford, Colin (31 October 2013). "James Hamilton site picked for new superschool". dailyrecord.co.uk. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  26. ^ Association, Press (5 December 2015). "Scottish writer William McIlvanney dies aged 79". Retrieved 7 December 2017 – via www.theguardian.com.
  27. ^ Wilson, Fraser N (19 September 2016). "Hurlford Primary School pupils moved to Loudoun Academy after ceiling collapse". dailyrecord.co.uk. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  28. ^ "Angry Ayrshire parents demand answers over school safety". planetradio.co.uk. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  29. ^ "Silver gilt casket Borough of Abergavenny, Wales". worldcat.org. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  30. ^ "Loanhead Primary and Early Childhood Centre · East Ayrshire Council". www.east-ayrshire.gov.uk. 2 November 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  31. ^ a b "Children and families · East Ayrshire Council". www.east-ayrshire.gov.uk. 13 July 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  32. ^ "Locality service · East Ayrshire Council". www.east-ayrshire.gov.uk. 5 July 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  33. ^ "Vibrant Communities · East Ayrshire Council".
  34. ^ "East Ayrshire named UK Council of the Year 2017 - East Ayrshire Council News". www.east-ayrshire.gov.uk. 5 April 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  35. ^ "National Recycling Awards 2016 - East Ayrshire Council News". www.east-ayrshire.gov.uk. 13 July 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  36. ^ Alderson, Reevel (10 December 2015). "Kilmarnock scoops regeneration award". BBC News. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  37. ^ Dailyrecord.co.uk (14 November 2008). "Kilmarnock traders try to get more shoppers in town". dailyrecord.co.uk. Retrieved 7 December 2017.

External links[edit]