The wider geographical region of East Ayrshire has a population of 122,100 at the last 2011 census, making it the 16th largest local authority in Scotland. Spanning a geographical area of 1,262 km, 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.
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 Sukhum, Abkhazia. Following a review of links this link is now considered as a friendship link.
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:The burghs of Darvel, Galston, Kilmarnock, Newmilns and Greenholm and Stewarton
The district of Kilmarnock (except the part in Irvine New Town)
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 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 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.
Education and social services
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. Kilmarnock Academy, situated in Elmbank Drive area of Kilmarnock is one of only two schools in the world to have educated two Nobel laureates: Alexander Fleming and John Boyd Orr.
From late-2015 into early 2016, the terminology Educational and Social Services was phased out within the council and replaced with Economy and Skills.
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, constructed during the 1960s and was 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 which 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 together 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. The new super school will be located adjacent to the site which currently houses the existing James Hamilton Academy building, meaning Kilmarnock Academy will move from it's current location where it has been located since the 1800s. The programme of merging the secondary and primary schools in schedulded 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.
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. Many parents of children attending the school raised concerns over East Ayrshire Council's commitment to the school building and the safety of it's pupils, leading to much public backlash from parents towards the councils. 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. 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.
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.
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. Other social work departments include a base in Dalmellington, Cumnock and Galston. 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. The Vibrant Communities services, established in 2003, was a unique service at the time of it's 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.Aiket Castle
Dalmore House and Estate
Scottish Industrial Railway Centre
Tam O' Shanter Hone Works, Dalmore
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, 2017. The current chief executive officer of East Ayrshire Council is Fiona Lees, who acts as a representative of the council and as a link between East Ayrshire Council parliamentary business and local residents of the authority. The current leader of East Ayrshire Council is Councillor Douglas Reid, supported by the Depute Leader Elena Whitham, both of the SNP party. The provost (Mayor) of East Ayrshire is Jim Todd who has been in office since May 2012. Todd is supported in his capacity as Provost by John Campbell, Depute Provost.
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. In the year previous, in 2016, East Ayrshire Council was awarded and recognised for their efforts towards recycling, highlighting the councils effort's within the recycling and resource management sector.
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. 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 and use this to resurge the town centre for social pleasure, shopping and living.