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The little bit of Scotland where Trump is always welcome

Thousands of demonstrators may have taken to the streets in protest at the US President's visit, but in a quiet corner of South Ayrshire, the locals won't hear a bad word against him. Lindsay Herron reports

Thousands took to the streets and vented their spleens at the US President in Belfast and London yesterday, and there were vociferous protests in Glasgow, Dundee and Dumfries, with a major demonstration planned for Edinburgh today. However, in one quiet enclave of Scotland, you will not hear a bad word about Donald Trump.

Protestors might try to invade the beautiful setting of Turnberry in South Ayrshire today as Trump spends the weekend at his luxury hotel. However, any demonstration will fly in the face of the thankfulness most locals feel towards, arguably, one of the most divisive characters in modern political history.

The people of Maybole, Maidens and other towns and villages in the vicinity may not profess to be ardent supporters of his policies, but Trump is good as far as they are concerned. Their area has been in virtual lockdown since last night, but they will happily live with it.

Five local schools have been taken over by Police Scotland as bases for their huge operation and a full road closure on the A719 between Maidens and Turnberry has been put in place until tomorrow.

They will work in tandem with the US Secret Service to make sure there are no intrusions, with a seven-mile no-fly zone also imposed. It's an inevitability when the US President is in the area, but there will no grumbling from the locals.

Trump's purchase of the Turnberry Hotel for £35.7m in April 2014, striking a deal with the Dubai-based company Leisurecorp, has been a remarkable boon for the local economy.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given Trump's business acumen, the purchase represented a bargain. Six years earlier, Leisurecorp paid £52m for the resort, which comprises two courses, a golf academy, a five-star hotel, as well as lodge and cottage accommodation, and then proceeded to spend a further £40m on renovations.

His organisation claims to have spent $200m on the resort over the past four years, improving the hotel which, with its red roof tiles, has been a landmark in Scotland for many years, and also the two 18-hole courses that overlook the Firth of Clyde - some 66 miles from Belfast, as the crow flies.

There are no blimps in South Ayrshire, only blessings. The locals recognise a good thing when they see it.

South Ayrshire Council said in a statement: "We welcome the significant investment The Trump Organisation has made in South Ayrshire. This has made a positive difference for many local people, businesses and communities, who have directly benefited in terms of jobs and income as a result of that investment."

That may be slightly dry, but others have a more impassioned view.

Elaine Love, who, with husband Nat, owns the Turnberry Road Suites bed-and-breakfast near the luxury Trump Turnberry Resort, has a very good understanding and knowledge of the man, having lived in California for 19 years.

Elaine's return to Scotland coincided with Trump's purchase of Turnberry. She and Nat got the feeling that there would be a positive spin-off - and they feel they have not been proved wrong.

Elaine says: "I have to be honest and say the main reason we bought the B&B was because Donald Trump was buying Turnberry, because we thought it would benefit the area.

"The previous owners had noticed an upturn just as the deal was completed and, bluntly speaking, they were able to up their prices.

"I don't think there is any doubt that it has brought life back to the area. The hotel is absolutely beautiful - stunning, in fact. Every time I drive past it, I am so impressed with what they have done."

She adds: "He has restored the hotel to its former glory. Previous owners didn't manage to do that and I'm not sure there was anyone else in the world who could have achieved what he has.

"The golf course looks busy, too, so I don't think there is any doubt that there has been a positive impact across the board.

"Some people may have their own views of Trump, but I don't know anyone in our area who doesn't have anything other than good things to say about his impact.

"Listen: I don't particularly love the guy. But he is doing what he said he would do, and we are all reaping the benefits."

There are other knock-on benefits to the Trump effect - such as local businesses and services.

Roberta Fisher, who runs Hannah's Taxis and Minibuses in nearby Maybole, has no doubt that many are benefiting.

Roberta says: "It's been a great thing for Turnberry. He has really improved the hotel, which is employing a lot of local people, so it has been very positive.

"From our point of view, we have never been busier. So we, as a business, are benefiting from the improvements he has made.

"I can't speak for other businesses, but I am sure that they are doing better, too, as a result. You know the place needed shaken up - and he has done that, to many people's benefit."

Trump Turnberry was named Scottish Hotel of the Year this year, with general manager Ralph Porciani being voted Best Hotel Manager, so it is perhaps no surprise the locals are basking in that glory.

However, there is great history in this part of the UK on the hallowed links of the Ailsa.

The remarkable battle between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in 1977 - known as the "Duel in the Sun" - when Turnberry first staged The Open is one of the greatest moments in golf's history.

The brilliant Australian Greg Norman became a Major champion in 1986 in the shadow of Ailsa Craig, and Nick Price, another world-renowned player, was a worthy champion in 1994.

Watson nearly won again in 1999 in what would have been the golf story of them all, but, in the end, was edged out by Stewart Cink in a play-off.

In that regard, Tom Paterson looks at things from a golfing perspective. Well, he would do - he is the long-standing secretary of Turnberry Golf Club.

He feels the classic Ailsa course has been enhanced by the President of the United States - and feels sure it is more than ready to stage The Open for an incredible fifth time.

Tom says: "I think Mr Trump has done a magnificent job, in terms of the improvements to the golf courses and the Turnberry Hotel.

"I really don't know what the future would have held had he not taken over the resort, but things are most certainly looking up now.

"All our membership is absolutely delighted with what he has done to the course, the clubhouse and, of course, the halfway house and the old lighthouse.

"I think employment in the area has risen, so he has had a considerable impact from that point of view.

"We have heard nothing so far, but I have no doubts that the Ailsa, which is better than ever, is more than ready to stage The Open once more and the world's best golfers would find it a pleasure to play."

Trump protests may persist across the UK and beyond today, tomorrow and in the future, but the people of South Ayrshire are eternally grateful he has brought prosperity to their area.

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