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Sports facilities named McPhee Park at Barony Campus

Sports facilities at the Barony Campus have been named McPhee Park in recognition of Alex McPhee, East Ayrshire Council’s Depute Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer who is set to retire this week.

Alex, who is a former Cumnock Academy pupil, was a driving force behind Scotland’s most innovative and inclusive educational facility.

Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of the Council said: “The Barony Campus is an exceptional educational facility that utilises the very latest technology, including Scotland’s first interactive and immersive video room and a concert class auditorium. The aim was to ensure our children and young people have every opportunity to achieve their full potential.

“It also offers an unprecedented level of sports provision, including two full sized, flood-lit synthetic pitches of world class rugby standard, a 400m 4-lane running track with 6 lane sprint, 2 full sized grass pitches, a 7 aside floodlit synthetic pitch and an outdoor basketball court, together with 13 indoor courts in various configurations.

“Alex McPhee had a vision for the Barony Campus and for our local communities so when he announced his retirement earlier this year, I asked for part of the Campus to be named in recognition of 43 years of exceptional service to local government, to education and our communities. It made perfect sense that the outdoor sports area was named McPhee Park, after a great man and passionate football supporter.”

Alex McPhee said: “Chief Executive Fiona Lees and I felt very strongly that the Barony Campus would bring incredible benefits to our children and young people and the local community, and I was so pleased that, despite the pandemic and the restrictions that faced our contractor Morrison Construction, the Campus was able to open in October to young people of The Robert Burns Academy and Lochnorris Primary, Hillside School and Cherry Trees Early Childhood Centre in November.

“To have the outdoor sports facilities named after me, is an incredible and completely unexpected honour. I had been invited to open a football tournament and offer my support to young Lochlan Murdoch who is raising awareness of type 1 diabetes. I was delighted to be asked and turned up at the Campus only to find out that it was a ruse. I retire this week and you would have thought that I would have been a bit suspicious but no, I was taken in hook, line and sinker.”

Councillor Reid added: “Alex retires on Thursday 24 December and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his service. He has been an exceptional Depute Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer ensuring the Council has been recognised by the Accounts Commission for its robust financial planning and performance improvement.

“He has overseen a dramatic change in the Council’s financial position from an overall deficit balance of £2.4m in 1998/99 to now having £50m of balances set aside to fund a range of forward commitments and cover for contingencies like the impact of Covid-19.

“Together with Fiona Lees, he was instrumental in devising a £1billion capital investment programme since 2010 that helped offset some of the worst effects of the last recession and has delivered new and refurbished schools; sports, business and community facilities and upgraded roads across East Ayrshire.

“Under his guidance the Council, in partnership with North and South Ayrshire Councils and the UK and Scottish Governments, agreed a multi-million pound investment package that will change the face of Ayrshire. The £251.5m Ayrshire Growth Deal aims to create up to 7000 jobs across a wide range of sectors with investment delivered over a 15-year period. This agreement was three and a half years in the making and involved skilful negotiation and collaboration, in which Alex played a major role.

“Alex has been a true public servant, having dedicated his life to local government and we are all grateful to him. I know that he intends to look for new and different challenges and he will also be able to devote more time to his sporting passion, Auchinleck Talbot.”

Notes to editors

Alex McPhee was appointed Senior Depute Director of Finance with East Ayrshire Council in 1996 after holding the position of Depute Director of Finance at Cumnock and Doon Valley District Council. He became East Ayrshire Council’s Director of Finance in 1998.

In 2013, Alex was named Finance Director of the Year and in 2014 was elected Chair of Scotland’s Local Authority Directors of Finance. Alex was appointed Depute Chief Executive: Economy and Skills in April 2015 assuming strategic responsibility for Education, Planning & Economic Development, Finance and ICT and Policy, Planning and Performance. He is also the Council’s statutory Chief Financial Officer.