North Ayrshire’s council leader has played down his success after being named a ‘Leader ofthe Year’ at an event for local authorities.

Councillor Joe Cullinane, Labour Councillor for Kilwinning, was honoured at the Local Government Information Unit awards last week following a number of high profile campaigns and Scotland-first initiatives.

The most high-profile of these was the introduction of free sanitary products across all council buildings to tackle the prevalent period poverty issue.

This wide-reaching policy – a first for a UK council – was heralded by leading poverty charities and national media.

During the last year, the council has also expanded its award-winning holiday schools meals service reaching out to more young people than ever before, while they are tackling fuel poverty by becoming the first in Scotland to become a municipal energy supplier.

But Cllr Cullinane said that he wasn’t ‘comfortable’ with politicians’ awards and that he would continue to tackle poverty within North Ayrshire.

He said: “Recognition is nice but I have to admit I am not entirely comfortable with the whole concept of politician awards.

“Public service is much more important to me and having the opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives is why I love being council leader.

“I’m incredibly lucky that I have political and officer colleagues who share the same vision as me and want to reduce poverty and make North Ayrshire a better and more equitable place.

“There is far too much poverty and far too much inequality in North Ayrshire. I’m not going to solve that on my own and it’s not going to change overnight.

“But we’re trying to make improvements that will have an impact – not always instantly – for some of our most vulnerable residents.

“We will continue to look at new and innovative ways of achieving that and as a council we will keep chipping away at poverty.”