The council leader thinks resources could be better spent, rather than achieving city status for North Ayrshire’s number one town – after the Provost praised the ‘great opportunity to put Irvine on the map’.

Councillors agreed for officers to explore potential City status in a UK-wide competition for next year’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations – with officers advising Irvine fits the criteria and South Ayrshire Council now looking into plans for a similar bid.

However, the usually ambitious council leader Joe Cullinane, who represents the Kilwinning ward, stated it would not be where he would put officers’ efforts.

Before proposed recommendation was agreed at North Ayrshire’s cabinet meeting in September, Cllr Cullinane, added he did ‘have a laugh’ that the Times would publish ‘a line’ informing readers of proposals to seek city status for Irvine on its front page.

He said: “I did have a laugh today when I saw the front page of one of our local papers – you would have thought we had submitted a bid for city status rather than a line in the paper saying we would explore rather than dismissing it.

The council leader has since told the Times he didn’t think there would be ‘any news for a while’ on the potential bid – after his Labour cabinet’s go ahead on Jubilee proposals.

Cllr Cullinane added: “As I commented at the last cabinet meeting it’s a line in the paper – I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s the focus of the paper.

“It certainly isn’t where I would be recommending officers put substantial resources.”

When we reported the plan in September, North Ayrshire Provost and Irvine West Cllr Ian Clarkson told the Times: “I think it’s absolutely brilliant.”

He added: “It’s an opportunity for Irvine to put themselves on the map. It’s a good opportunity and we saw it early on so we’re grasping it and lets see where it takes us.

“It’s an exciting time. We’re really behind it and would love it to happen.”

The ‘line’ in the Cabinet meeting papers stated: “The Platinum Jubilee provides an opportunity to work with local communities to enter a competition to apply for City Status.

“Information has been published inviting Local Authorities to apply for two separate honours as part of the Platinum Jubilee Civic Honours Competition. This includes competitions for City Status and Lord Mayor, or Provost, status.

“Irvine aligns with the criteria for the competition and a co-produced application in partnership with the local community, based on the previous applications for regeneration awards, will offer a strong element showing the depth of heritage as well as the forward thinking, kind and supportive approaches within the local community today.”

Before officers were approved to explore the bid, Kilwinning Cllr Cullinane asked cabinet colleague: “Alex [Gallagher] not sure Largs meets the criteria but I’ll bring you in”.

North Coast and Cumbrae Cllr Gallagher responded: “Largs already is a metropolis”.