IRVINE Councillor Ian Clarkson was named Provost of North Ayrshire as Labour officially gained control of the administration.

The Irvine West Councillor, who previously held the role of Depute Provost, claimed the top post after Joan Sturgeon handed over the chain.

The changeover in power took place at a special meeting held on Tuesday which also saw Joe Cullinane become the youngest-ever Leader of North Ayrshire Council, taking over from Willie Gibson and the SNP following their resignation from the administration.

This came after the shock by-election defeat in Irvine West which meant the balance of power was tipped back into the red. Labour now have the most councillors by the smallest of margins and will oversee the running of North Ayrshire Council until next May’s elections following the requistion recieved from eight of the 11 SNP Councillors.

The three councillors not included in the list were Willie Gibson, Tony Gurney and John Bruce with the latter saying in a letter that he did not agree to resign his posts but he conceded defeat at the meeting after discussions.

In changes of Portfolio holders, Joe Cullinane takes over for Finance and Corporate Support, Depute Leader of the Labour Group John Bell takes control of Education, Saltcoats and Stevenston Councillor Jim Montgomerie takes over in Place, Peter McNamara Health and Social Care and Alex Gallagher Economy.

Newly-elected Irvine West Councillor Louise McPhater has also been thrown into the deep end early in her political career after being put forward to be in charge of Communities.

Independent Ardrossan and Arran Councillor John Hunter will remain as Chair of the Scrutiny and Petitions Committee.