North Ayrshire MSP Margaret Burgess has bowed out from Holyrood after a five-year spell.

Wednesday marked her final day as MSP for Cunninghame South following the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament at midnight.

Campaigning to elect her successor officially began with SNP colleague Ruth Maguire challenging Labour’s Joe Cullinane, Tory candidate Billy McClure and Lib Dem Ruby Kirkwood for the vacant seat.

Mrs Burgess won the seat from Labour’s Irene Oldfather during the SNP’s historic majority landslide of 2011.

Prior to being elected, she was manager of East Ayrshire’s Citizens Advice Bureau and since September 2012 Mrs Burgess has served as Scotland’s housing minister.

And as her time in Holyrood draws to a close, Mrs Burgess reflected on the highs and lows of representing her area.

She said: “Representing my home area as an MSP and serving as a minister in the Scottish Government has been the honour and privilege of my life. There were many highs and a few lows.

“No MSP asks sympathy for having to do their job – far from it. An MSP is well-paid with many opportunities to help local people and help build a better, fairer Scotland . But there are challenges and pressures.

“Travelling through to Edinburgh every week and being away from home was a definite change of lifestyle. I got used to it - but there really is no place like home.”

Mrs Burgess added: “A government minister faces economic and political challenges, but when there are achievements in the community or country in which you grew up, and you can say ‘I did that’ or more often ‘I helped to do that’, there is cause for satisfaction.

“There is a still some way to go to build the prosperous, fairer Scotland we all want, but there have been successes and signs of progress and I’d like to single out a few.

“I am particularly proud of the Scottish Parliament, including my role, in setting up the new Scottish Welfare Fund with its Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants – a sound first step towards building a fair Scottish social security system for our vulnerable citizens.

“It was good to complete my final piece of housing legislation with the Private Tenancies Bill enshrining new rights for tenants.

“Likewise, the Scottish Government mitigation of the Bedroom Tax was so successful that many think the Westminster measure has already been abolished. Soon we can end it!

“In Bedroom Tax mitigation negotiations I realised that some UK officials simply had no idea about the lives of real people in Ayrshire – a real eye-opener! We are not ‘better together’ with these UK guys, and their ‘broad shoulders’ do not – and will not - deliver for us in Scotland.

“There have been local successes in attracting funding including local groups like Kilwinning Sports Club or Irvine Beat FM, and Irvine Bay Regeneration Company, and the number of local housing developments were great to see.

“As the election for the next Scottish Parliament draws near, it will come as no surprise that I hope that my successor will be Ruth Maguire.

“But whoever he or she is, I wish them well.”