AYRSHIRE is set for its biggest boost in decades as the governments in Edinburgh and London agreed to funding to the tune of £200million.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell MP was in Kilmarnock last week as he confirmed that the Conservative government would be putting in £100million and the Scottish Parliament’s infrastructure secretary Michael Matheson announced that Holyrood would match the funding.

That means more than £240million will be allocated to the deal, £60million less than the much mooted £300million previously thought.

The long-anticipated Ayrshire Growth Deal will now become a reality and it is likely to create thousands of jobs, bring £2billion of investment into the area, improve local infrastructure and breathe new life into the Ayrshire economy.

David Mundell said: “I am here today to confirm that the UK Government is going to contribute £100m to the Ayrshire Growth Deal. We’ve been in discussions with the councils and other partners for a while and we’re now able to give the go head. The Scottish Government are, I think, going to contribute an equivalent sum and we are ready to really go with some exciting projects across Ayrshire. Here in Kilmarnock, we’re focusing on the HALO project this morning but there are a lot of other projects across the whole of Ayrshire and what we hope is that the Growth Deal will be transformative, help the Ayrshire economy into the 21st century and – most importantly – deliver jobs and economic security for people here.”

Michael Matheson MSP criticised the UK government for the timing of the announcement and said: “Whilst I am disappointed that the UK Government has decided to depart from previous practice of agreeing joint announcements on growth deal support, I am glad to see that the UK Government has finally moved to make its commitment to Ayrshire clear. This is something which we have been urging them to do for some time.

“The Scottish Government has already made clear our commitment to invest in the Ayrshire Growth Deal for some considerable time. And on the basis of our 50:50 approach to funding growth deals, we will of course match the £100m announced for Ayrshire by the UK Government. We will also continue our dialogue with our Ayrshire partners on those projects that they think will have the transformative effect on the Ayrshire economy.”

All three Ayrshire councils have been heavily involved in the Growth Deal and East Ayrshire’s Chief Executive and Depute Leader reacted to the latest news.

Chief Executive Fiona Lees told the Chronicle: “This is a great day for Ayrshire and East Ayrshire as well. This is a £100m announcement from the UK Government. We’ve already had an indication from the Scottish Government that they are going to match that and, on top of that, the councils will be putting in £40m so what we are looking at is at least £240m.