“Dirty” North Ayrshire will pull out all the stops to improve the look of its streets, a councillor insisted.

That was the message from Tony Gurney, cabinet member for the Green Environment and Economy, following a question from Conservative Councillor Cameron Inglis at a meeting last Wednesday.

It came after the streets in the local authority were found to be the third-worst for litter in the country, according to a surprise survey by Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB) last month.

The annual survey of litter-strewn areas found 15.4 per cent of North Ayrshire’s streets were “unacceptably dirty”. That is up from just 3.7 per cent back 12 years ago.

And it means North Ayrshire is only behind of Glasgow (15.8 per cent) and Inverclyde (16.1 per cent) in Scotland’s filthy streets rankings.

Councillor Inglis asked: “In a report by Keep Scotland Beautiful, the streets of North Ayrshire were voted third dirtiest in the country. Can the cabinet member explain why this is and what they are going to do to clean up the streets of North Ayrshire?”

Cllr Gurney warned action will be taken against litter louts.

He said: “Whilst the vast majority of residents and visitors behave responsibly, it is disappointing that a minority still engage in poor behaviour in terms of littering and environmental crime.

“Cleaning up discarded litter in streets and open space areas is a significant cost to the council and is entirely preventable.

“The council has a litter, dog fouling and fly tipping prevention strategy which focuses on educating (communications, campaigns) enabling (provision of bins) and enforcement (the issuing of fixed penalty notices to offenders).

“The strategy is being reviewed and an updated strategy will be published in late spring 2024. The council is engaging with KSB to help facilitate workshop sessions with elected members and communities as part of this review.

“This will cover the implications of the new national litter and fly tipping strategy and also take account of emerging issues and themes such as littering from single-use vapes.

“In respect of the street cleanliness index score, it is disappointing that the council has not performed as well as in previous years.

“Since the audit was conducted, a number of improvements have been implemented such as a review of the street cleaning schedules to identify littering hotspots and to respond to different demands post-Covid; an increase in the number of internal street cleaning audits to locally monitor cleanliness; and the targeting of enforcement activities to identified littering hotspots.

“New larger capacity, gull-proof bins are also being installed at busy coastal locations. We are also supported by a significant number of community volunteer groups who regularly carry out litter picks in their localities – and this support is very much appreciated.

“The most recent audit for 2023/24 produced a score of 90.1 per cent, which is a significant increase from the 2022/23 score of 84.6 per cent, which indicates a positive direction of travel as we continue to tackle the blight of irresponsible littering.”