North Ayrshire Council’s new Chief Executive has spoken abouttackling poverty as his number one directive moving forward in his new role.

And Craig Hatton spoke of his ambitions for employment, education, the Ayrshire Growth Deal and how he will tackle ongoing central funding cuts affec ting the council.

Mr Hatton, who has moved up the ladder from his former job as Director of Place within the council has jumped in head first to put his own stamp on the 2017 APSE Council of the Year.

He told the Times this week that tackling poverty was his number one aim, saying: “If there is one thing, it is shifting our position in the SMID (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation).

“In my view, itis completely unacceptable that North Ayrshire sits where it does and we want to turn that round. “At the moment we are developing a new council plan and clearly a lot of the focus on that is the actions to help shift our position.”

The Chief Executive also proudly spoke about how the council is working to improve education and highlighted a key link between that and housing, he said: “The work around Fullarton flats and other plac es is totally transformational.

“There’s lots of varying things going on around the domains and we will pull those together and come up with a number of really targeted strategies that are joined up across communities and across partners but also working with government around getting more investment to the area, they are the really important things.

“The other thing is the quality of the overall living environment, when you think about housing, there’s a great link between high quality housing and educational attainment and our education services are working with the wider families to support the children through the process.”

Mr Hatton said the three Ayrshire Councils are ready to take the Ayrshire Growth Deal to the next stage but it is the government holding things back.

He said: “We are ready, the three Ayrshire Councils working together are ready to sign heads of terms with he government, we were hoping to do that before Christmas, that’s been delayed but we are pushing government saying we are ready but that looks like it will be in the new year now.

Once we sign that, that opens up a range of projects and we need to think how are we going to deliver those.”

He also explained how the cuts to government would be difficult to tackle but explained there are plans in place to mitigate these cuts, adding: “It is very challenging, let’s not discount that or discard that we’ve had eight or nine years now with significant budget reductions year on year and I think it is probably towards £90million.

“Lots of things have changed within Nor th Ayrshire, some of the services we deliver.

“Look at Streetscene, we have taken from £3million out of those services now but we have got an incredibly dedicated staff but the streets are as clean as ever and that is also working with communities because if people don’t drop litter in the first place, we don’t have to pick it up.

“We haven’t had any compulsory redundancies and we don’t want any compulsory redundancies, we want to work with our staff and our future planning but ultimately we have to have the resources in place to deliver the right services for our communities.”

He also explained how the reaction he has had since taking over from Elma Murray has been overwhelming and said: “I’ve been truly overwhelmed by warmth and support of our employees in the lead up to the process, following my appointment, lots and lots of people wishing me well, congratulating me and I am really pleased with that but overwhelmed a little with that.

“I have always prided myself on working closely with our employees and being open honest with them and I think that is really, really important as well as working very closely with members across all parties.”