South Ayrshire Council has announced a range of measures to support local businesses this Christmas following the devastating Ayr Station Hotel fire. 

Free parking and extra festive events are hoped to drive footfall to the town, which has been seriously disrupted by the blaze in the former hotel

There will also be financial support for local traders who have been impacted by the closures of Ayr railway station and Station Bridge Road for emergency works - which are expected to remain until January 10. 

Read more: Ayr Station hotel: Expert says demolition alternatives available

Councillor Martin Dowey, leader of South Ayrshire Council, said: “Ensuring public safety is at the forefront of our concerns.  This means that temporary road closures at Ayr Train Station and Station Bridge Road are essential to keep everyone safe during the ongoing safety works.

"A key objective is to get both rail and road transport moving again as soon as possible, however, with the closures expected to last until around  January 10, I want local retailers to know that the Council is here to support them.

"Our extended range of festive activities is just what the town centre needs ahead of Christmas. Plus, we’ll soon be launching our promotional campaign so that everyone knows Ayr is open and ready to welcome their custom!

The Herald: The fire in Ayr Station HotelThe fire in Ayr Station Hotel (Image: Robert Collie)

"We’ve also been working hard behind the scenes on specific business support grants for shops and businesses in the immediate area of the closures that are severely impacted.”

The free extended programme of festive entertainment will see a range of activities throughout Ayr, hosted by The Grain Exchange, Cutty Sark Centre, and Ayr Central Shopping Centre. 

Every weekend in the run up to Christmas, children and families can take part in a range of activities from 12pm to 4pm, including snowflake making, Christmas clay modelling, face painting and Christmas themed games. 

This is added to the town's Festive Family Fun Day on Sunday November 19, with its Christmas market, Santa Express Train, and a "dance extravaganza".

Read more: Ayr Station Hotel fire: Pictures as derelict hotel goes up in flames

There will also be unlimited free on-street parking in and around Ayr town centre and in council car parks from Sunday, November 19. It will be available every day until Monday, January 8 2024. 

The council said it is also creating a programme to support eligible businesses in the immediate area of the works around the Station Hotel building, which have led to the closure of Ayr train station and Station Bridge Road. 

Officers will soon contact all of the businesses that fall into the criteria directly, to talk about the additional business support that’s available to them. 

South Ayrshire tourism boss Councillor Alec Clark said: “I’m pleased that we’re enhancing our festive entertainment programme in Ayr town centre over the next few weeks.  This will help to attract more visitors and locals to the area.

Read more: Ayr Station Hotel must not be demolished after fire

"Christmas is a time where people traditionally gather to enjoy seasonal activities like shopping, eating out, and being entertained.  

"We’ve substantially upped our range of activities to give families more opportunities to come together to create special memories, while supporting local retailers. Two hours’ free parking in the town centre is also a great incentive to pay a visit.”

Visitors and residents can keep up to date with the festive activities on offer over the coming weekends by checking its dedicated page and by following South Ayrshire council on social media