The ambitious campaign to secure new jobs and investment for Ayrshire took a major step forward last week.

At a special event in London, the three leaders of North, East and South Ayrshire Councils were joined by politicians and partners from the public and private sector involved in delivering the £300million Ayrshire Growth Deal proposals.

Following the event, attended by Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, the Growth Deal team will continue to work closely with both governments to finalise the value of governments’ support and conclude the associated Heads of Terms which would pave the way for investment in 2019.

Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, said: “We are extremely ambitious for our area and this investment would help us realise the enormous potential available to us.

“We have worked very extremely hard on this and the projects we have developed will be transformational. They would have a huge impact on the communities of Ayrshire and contribute also to the wider Scottish and UK economies.

“The meeting at Dover House was positive and importantly another opportunity to articulate our ambitions for our region and our communities. Over the next few weeks we will finalise arrangements with both Governments so that we are all able to sign the Ayrshire Growth Deal. This will allow us to get started on some really exciting projects.”

North Ayrshire & Arran MP, Patricia Gibson MP, who raised the Ayrshire Growth Deal on many occasions at Westminster and led a debate there on the issue, said: “This meeting signified that huge progress has been made in securing this deal, backed by the Scottish Government and, now, the UK Government.

“The agreement for the Ayrshire Growth Deal is now in place and it is expected to be signed off on January 25.

“I am excited atthe economic opportunities this £324 million investment - half from the Scottish Government and half from the UK Government - will deliver for Ayrshire. It is expected to attract £2 billion of private investment and create an estimated 13,000 jobs in the course of its 15 year programme of inclusive growth.

“I look forward to this Deal being signed off, so that we can work together to start bringing the economic benefits it will bring to Ayrshire as soon as possible.”

The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Councillor Group on North Ayrshire Council have welcomed the news and they said: “Hopefully the Deal will eventually be signed allowing some £300m of public sector investment. We are however disappointed that in spite of this being partly a UK Government initiative, the Labour Administration on North Ayrshire Council refused to include a Conservative Councillor in the Membership of the Ayrshire Regional Joint Committee that will oversee the Growth Deal.

“This sum of money from the public purse (£300) however is only equivalent to approx £6m per year per council over the 15 years of the Deal. Our strong view is that the current Labour Administration (and the previous SNP one) should realise that real growth must come from private companies. They must throw off their political distaste of all things “private” and engage with the private sector businesses to encourage inward investment so as to grow the local economy and provide badly needed jobs. They also need to provide support for the few industries that remain in North Ayrshire For example EDF’s Hunterston Nuclear Power Station which may close by 2023 with the loss of 700 + jobs and £100m+ annual loss to the local economy.”