A national charity has come under fire for its decision to close its much-valued Kilwinning shop.

Council leader and Kilwinning councillor Joe Cullinane says the charity has given misleading statements about the closure and said if previous statements were the case the council could have helped with arrangements.

MS Society Scotland has said the lease is being terminated as the building is “no longer fit for purpose” and ongoing issues with maintenance, “which cannot be resolved”, while MS Society volunteers say the building is fine and making money for the charity.

It has since been revealed that the charity’s Trustees have taken a decision at national level not to renew nor take on new leases.

Councillor Cullinane held a meeting with MS Society representatives last week to offer help.

He said: “I was dismayed by the report that the centre was to close. I read the Society’s comments about the condition of the property being the reason for not renewing the lease and wanted, to make it clear to them that I could work with council officers to find suitable alternative accommodation.

“It turns out that the charity’s Trustees have taken a decision at national level not to renew nor take on new leases. That means that the original statements were rather misleading and means that my offer will not be taken forward.

“They kept saying that the shop runs at a deficit and produced the accounts from the last few years, which showed a profit last year.

“The MS Society premises in Kilwinning is more than a shop, it is a resource centre, ran by dedicated volunteers, which supports a branch with 400 members and provides a hub for anyone seeking advice."

Shop volunteer Corrine Hannigan, who suffers from MS herself said: “The statement that the society no longer wishes to be responsible for any property is a nationwide travesty not just a local one and will apply to each and every branch who have an existing lease.

“Without the local branch mentally, physically and emotionally I could not have survived MS so far. For me the resource centre was a lifesaver and the people in it my lifeguards. Without them I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now, which is much better.

The MS Society Scotland Director Morna Simpkins said: “There have been ongoing issues with the maintenance of the building and the lease in Kilwinning which cannot be resolved, and as a result of this we are in discussions about exiting the lease.

“The MS Society has made the decision not to sign any leases for new properties within our volunteer-led groups. The shop made a small profit in 2016 but across the past six years, it’s actually made a large loss.”