IT’S OFFICIAL - West Kilbride has the Best Village High Street in the UK.

The village has beat off hundreds of high streets across the country to be named Britain’s village high street.

In the final three, West Kilbride came up against the challenge of Brigg, North Lincolnshire and Twyford, Berkshire but the North Ayrshire village was awarded the accolade at ceremony at Admiralty House in London earlier this week.

A record number of 230 high streets entered and nearly 200,000 votes were cast across the seven categories.

This year the public got the chance to vote for the first time, alongside a visit by an expert judge from the Future High Streets Forum.

As a category winner of the Great British High Street Awards 2015, West Kilbride will now receive a share of a prize pot worth £80,000 – alongside expert training and tailor-made tips from Google’s training taskforce for one hundred shops, bars and restaurants.

Kay Hall, Vice Chairperson, West Kilbride Community Initiative Ltd said: “Winning the Great British High Street Award is a fantastic achievement. Over the past few years we’ve tried our best to adapt to the way people’s lives have been changing.

“That’s why we’re so pleased that the judges and the people of West Kilbride have recognised all that we’ve done to improve our high street and make sure it stays at the heart of our community for years to come.

“We’re going to use this win as a springboard to do even more. Thank you every one that voted – we’re thrilled.”

Local MSP Kenneth Gibson: said: “I am absolutely delighted for the people of West Kilbride and in particular West Kilbride Community Initiative who have worked for years, in challenging circumstances to transform the heart of the village.

“Prior to its transformation and designation as Scotland’s only Craft and Design Town, West Kilbride was a village in decline. The hard work, imagination and initiative of the local community can now be celebrated with the achievement of this much deserved award.”

Mr Gibson has marked West Kilbride’s success by submitting the following motion to the Scottish Parliament;

West Kilbride was named winner of the village category because of the transition made from a traditional holiday centre struggling to keep businesses afloat into a vibrant craft centre with a clear and visible, unique selling point.

Judges were impressed by the nine exceptionally well presented craft centres on the High Street and the Barony Centre an historic church converted into a community centre selling beautiful local craft items.

West Kilbride Community Initiative Limited has also purchased an old quarry and transformed it into quiet seated area with themed gardens for different parts of the community.

High Streets Minister Marcus Jones said: “The excitement this competition has generated with a huge level of interest from the public vote is proof that high streets are the life and soul of towns, villages and cities across the country.

“Over the last year investment in property is up 30 per cent, town centre vacancy rates have fallen to under 10% and retail sales have increased for the longest period on record – long may it continue.

“West Kilbride deserves the very highest praise for being a category winner in this year’s Great British High Street Awards.

“Their innovative ideas and hard work on the ground really made them stand out and we’ll be sharing their excellent example to help others learn from their success.”

The Great British High Street Awards 2015 is run by the Department for Communities and Local Government and sponsored by Boots, Costa, Post Office, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and the British Council of Shopping Centres.