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Newmilns Snow and Sports Complex

 

Newmilns Snow and Sports Complex (a company Limited by guarantee) is operated by a voluntary Community based Management Committee comprising representatives of East Ayrshire Council including the local elected member, Loudoun Valley Trust, Newmilns and Greenholm Community Council, Newmilns Action Group, Friends of Newmilns Ski Slope, and Snowsport Scotland ( the National body for Snow sports).

 

The Mission Statement of NSASC is:-

           

"TO SEEK THE RETENTION, IMPROVEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE EXISTING SKI SLOPE FACILITY AND TO DEVELOP THE SURROUNDING SITE FOR COMPLEMENTARY LEISURE AND EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE LOCAL AND WIDER COMMUNITY AND TO PROMOTE THE FORMATION OF A PROPERLY CONSTITUTED MANAGEMENT GROUP IN RESPECT OF THE SITE WHICH WILL QUALIFY FOR LOTTERY AND OTHER FUNDING"

 

East Ayrshire Council and Ayrshire Educational Trust retain ownership of the site and each owner has formally agreed to lease their respective parts of the site to NSASC. The Management Committee is properly constituted and legally set up as a Limited Company having no share capital and limited by guarantee. Its sole purpose being the retention, upgrading and developing the current Ski Slope facility in conjunction with other on site and compatible leisure based activities.            

  

The facilities as at 01/01/03 include a dry ski slope of some 100m long constructed of Dendix Matting serviced by a Britonlift ski tow. The slope is all weather and floodlit. Ancillary facilities include a ski lodge with office accommodation, ski hire/store,public/change area and ladies and Gents toilets. The site which is landscaped with trees is on a south facing hillside with a panoramic view of the Town of Newmilns and the woods of Lanfine Estate beyond.  Extensive refurbishment of the facility was initiated on 12/08/03 by East Ayrshire Council.

  

2.0       BACKGROUND

 

Newmilns Ski Slope was officially opened in 1975 and operated by Strathclyde Regional Council. In 1995 the operation of the slope transferred to East Ayrshire Council (Community Education). The loss of the larger focus of Strathclyde South West Area coupled with financial pressures on the new local authorities following reorganisation resulted in a difficult period for the facility. A failure to invest and upgrade the facility associated with poor marketing and advertising had led to a decline in user numbers and consequent income.

 

Newmilns is one of the oldest inland burghs in Scotland having received its charter as a Burgh of Barony in 1490 from James IV King of Scots. The principal industry of lace weaving has been in serious decline for many years. There is considerable unemployment and deprivation in the village. The ancient core of the village was in serious decay with many derelict and boarded up properties. The image presented to locals and visitors alike was one of almost terminal decline. A number of bodies have been set up to arrest and reverse this decline the most significant of which are The Newmilns Townscape initiative and The Irvine Valley Regeneration Partnership. The Initiative has been successful in obtaining a significant grant from The Heritage Lottery fund to restore the ancient core of the village and significant improvements have already been made to our village environment. The Ski Slope is one of the few value added facilities which attracts visitors and as such is seen as a vital element in any  upgrading of the village, our Community and indeed the whole valley infrastructure. Unfortunately the Ski Slope by its "modern" nature did not attract Heritage funding from the Initiative. It would have been a sad paradox if that on the achievement of the village renewal its major tourist asset were to be lost .  

 

In May, 2000 following a Public outcry, including a petition signed by just under 1000 people in less than ten days, the Education Committee of East Ayrshire Council considered a report on the future of the slope and deferred action including the possible closure of the slope pending a feasibility study on the facility. The feasibility study was co-sponsored by the Council and the Loudoun Valley Trust. The outcome of the study was positive in respect of the potential of the facility. Among other things the study recommended the setting up of a dedicated Management Group such as NSASC.

 

NSASC was officially set up on 31st January,2001. The composition of NSASC has a deliberate bias towards the Snowsports interest as represented by the Friends who have 5 places on the Management Group; NAG have 2 places; NGCC have 1 place as have EAC (Community Education), the Local elected Member, Snowsport Scotland, LVT, and Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire.

 

In the last three years NSASC and other voluntary groups have spent a considerable amount of time and effort working to help get the ski slope back on it's feet prior to a planned handover at or around May 2004. Visitor numbers were significantly improving showing a very positive trend. However in September 2002 our plans were dealt a severe setback. An accident on the slope to an individual resulted in an investigation by The Health and Safety Executive who served two Prohibition Notices on the facility. The Council was forced to close the facility in September 2002 with the cancellation of the Winter Instruction programme that at the time of closure was fully subscribed with a waiting list.

 

Although this was a terrible setback NSASC held firm in its resolve and became even more determined that the Council should make good the facility and secure the uplifting of the Prohibition Notices before the handover could be progressed. Following much lobbying from this group and its many supporters the Council eventually agreed to substantially upgrade the facility at an estimated cost of £122,000. The upgrading work commenced on 12/08/03 and should be completed in the autumn of 2003.

 

The new surface is "Powderpac" which is a continuous carpet like material which as well as providing a state of the art ski surface is also much safer. Additional electronic safety trips are being provided on the tow as well as a camera to monitor the top station from the ski hut.

 

3.0       BUSINESS OBJECTIVES

 

The immediate business objective of NSASC is to promote and market the improved facility as from an agreed handover date and to seek appropriate funding to support its running costs.

 

The enforced closure of the facility has resulted in a prolonged interruption of business at the slope and a consequent complete loss of customers. Revenue funding is being sought on the assumption that the business will take sometime to resume its previous positive trend in user numbers. For this reason initial expectations are realistically modified and show a target of around 5000 customer visits for the first operating year, building to previous levels of 10000 by the second year and 15000 by the third year. Bearing in mind that the Feasibility Study pointed to a potential 100,000 users our aspirations are on the modest side. On this usage we have applied various cost models and projected a realistic operating budget which taken with charging levels which we believe are reasonable and which our market can support imply that a support level of around £40,000 for the first year and around £20,000 in the second year will result in a break even by the end of the third year.

 

  • Identify and target the market (Schools,leisure,ski clubs,youth groups,disabled groups, general public etc.
  • Review instruction provision/charges Actioned
  • Develop Snowboarding/snowblading
  • Review Ski instructor/Manager roles In progress
  • Carry out essential Health and Safety Maintenance to ski stock In Progress

The medium term business objective of NSASC is to develop the site for broader Community use and to expand and enhance the Snowsports facility to encourage a wider range of skier ability and to further improve the appeal to Snowboarders. These objectives will be achieved by the following actions:-

 

 Detailed plans will be drawn up for the phased development of the site which will include improvements to the snowsports facility as well as the provision of a skate park and multi-court.

 A second and complimentary ski slope is proposed adjacent to the existing slope of a design and gradient to attract more advanced skiers and boarders

 Fully costed estimates will be sought for the proposed works

 NSASC will progress appropriate grant applications for support funding and sponsorship

 Service Level Agreements will be sought between NSASC and other users and potential users eg EAC Education/Leisure Departments/Kilmarnock College

 NSASC will promote and foster the development of Snowsports in South West Scotland in close association with the national body Snowsport Scotland

 

The Longer term aim of NSASC is to create a Centre of Excellence for Snowsports and related activities and to provide a Multiuse facility for the benefit of the local and wider Community. The further enhancement of the facility may include:-

 

 A start off/rendezvous point for mountain biking/walking/orienteering in the surrounding countryside including Whitelee Forest

 A climbing wall

 Club premises with café/bar facilities

 Children's play area

  

For further information, contact:
Nathan Balls
e-mail:info@skinewmilns.co.uk
Website:
www.skinewmilns.co.uk

 


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Company Registration No. 278156. Scottish Charity No. SC 029210