PRIME Minister Theresa May delivered an early Easter gift to local people last week - when she agreed to commit to the Ayrshire Growth Deal.

The PM made the statement in a whistle-stop tour of a factory in Ayr last Thursday before bundling into a car leaving newspaper journalists without the chance to question her statement.

The proposal read: “It is my mission to deliver a Brexit deal that works for Scotland and the whole of the UK, and today I’ve been speaking to workers here in Ayr about what our departure from the EU means to them.

“I am determined that the Brexit we pursue is one that strengthens the bonds that unite us - because I believe ours is the world’s most successful union. Scotland - with its diverse sectors ranging from wool, salmon and whisky production, to world-leading universities, tech hubs and cultural institutions - is such a significant contributor to our United Kingdom. I want to see it prosper as we forge a new role for ourselves in the world.

“That’s why we’re continuing to back Scotland and I am pleased today to announce we are opening talks over a new Ayrshire Growth Deal that should significantly boost the local economy and opportunities for people here.”

The Growth Deal has been on the table for a long-time, with parties across the political divide calling on the Conservative Government to agree to it and get the ball rolling for the people of North, South and East Ayrshire.

The Three local authorities having been working in tandem to plan and try to deliver the Deal, which could unlock investment, employment and regeneration throughout each area.

The three Ayrshire Councils issued a joint statement following the announcement and all three welcomed the news.

It said: “The Ayrshire Growth Deal aims to take forward a number of transformational projects across the region.

“At the heart of the proposals put forward is Inclusive Growth - creating opportunities that benefit everyone across all of Ayrshire’s communities.

“The Ayrshire Growth Deal will provide significant investment in the key sectors of aerospace and space, life sciences, manufacturing and tourism.

“The Growth Deal team – which includes the three Ayrshire Councils and national agencies, with support from the private sector – have been lobbying hard to gain the guarantee of financial support from the UK Government.

“The Scottish Government have made a firm commitment to progressing the Deal.

Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, said: said: “We have developed projects, visualised how they will map out and how they will positively impact the local, Scottish and UK economies.

It is been hard having these potentially transformational plans without being able to take them significantly forward.

“It is now fantastic that we have reached this stage and we’re excited about what it could mean for Ayrshire. We have worked hard to identify projects that will benefit not only our local economies but also the wider Scottish one too.

“Inclusive growth is key to these proposals and we firmly believe that the Ayrshire Growth Deal will deliver economic growth that will enrich all our communities.

“We feel these proposals are ambitious and would make a huge difference to the Ayrshire economy. We can now take these forward and that is really exciting.”

Dr Philippa Whitford, MP for Central Ayrshire, said: “After nearly 18 months of lobbying, I am delighted the UK Government has finally given a commitment to the Ayrshire Growth Deal. Although the PM stopped short of announcing funding, I am hopeful that the talks will result in match funding with the Scottish Government, which would enable the plans to go ahead in full as laid out by the three local authorities.

“Having first raised the issue at Westminster in 2016, the period in between has been extremely frustrating; having initially had a positive response from the Secretary of State for BEIS but little in the way of firm commitment from the Treasury.

“The plan seeks to capitalise on the region’s existing strengths and infrastruc-ture through developing the aerospace, life sciences, Food & Drink and manu-facturing industries as well as capitalising on Ayrshire’s natural assets by en-hancing the tourism opportunities of our heritage sites, hotels, leisure facilities and stunning coastline.

“Having recently led for the SNP on the Space Industry Bill at Westminster I am hopeful we will see the development of the Spaceport and Aerospace Campus at Prestwick Airport, which I have been actively promoting since my election in 2015.

“A huge amount of hard work has gone into developing and promoting the proposal and I commend the three Ayrshire local authorities, my MP colleagues Alan Brown and Patricia Gibson, our counterparts in Holyrood, and the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Keith Brown, for their commit-ment to achieving this outcome.

“The Ayrshire Growth Deal has always been ambitious in its aims but hopefully it now also has the financial support and impetus at government level to help it succeed."

Projecting future plans

• The growth and development of the aerospace industry at Prestwick Airport and securing the UK’s first spaceport there

• Development of Irvine Harbourside and Ardeer Peninsula

• Ayrshire being considered as the UK location for a Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre

• Regional transport appraisal to lead to improvements to the road and rail infrastructure particularly the main arterial routes

• Investment at Bellfield Interchange and A76, providing essential links to the northern powerhouse and to open up additional development land across Ayrshire

• Development of industrial space at Moorfield Kilmarnock

• Complementary investment in digital infrastructure

• Further development of industrial and business premises in key locations