Tributes have been paid after the first ever leader of North Ayrshire Council passed away at the age of 88.

James Clements, who served as the first leader of the local authority back in 1996, died over the holidays.

Mr Clements was among the group of councillors who were elected to the first Cunninghame District Council in May 1974, following local government reorganisation, having previously served on Kilwinning Town Council.

Over the years, he had various roles in local government but may be best remembered as the first leader of North Ayrshire Council.

North Ayrshire Provost Ian Clarkson has since paid tribute the ‘inspirational figure’.

He said: “Jimmy was the first leader of North Ayrshire Council. I was appointed group secretary at this time which was a great start to my political career.

“Jimmy was an inspirational leader and I learned so much from him as did many others. 

“My thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”

Mr Clements is one of only four people to have been added to the Roll of Freemen of North Ayrshire since the council was first formed back in 1996. 

He received the Freedom of North Ayrshire in 2000 for his many years of public service.

At the nominating meeting, the citation read: “In recognition of 25 years in Public Service as a member of Kilwinning Town Council, Cunninghame District Council and North Ayrshire Council in which he held the offices of Housing Convener Kilwinning Town Council; Chairman of Planning, Vice Chairman of Finance and Chair of Leisure Services, Cunninghame District Council; Member of the Board of Irvine Development Corporation and Leader of the first Administration of North Ayrshire Council – it is proposed that today the 24th November 2000 that James Clements be admitted as Freeman of North Ayrshire.”