Jubilant Conservative group leader Tom Marshall has saluted his team on another impressive election performance.

But he won’t stop there and is hoping to go one better next time, after they finished runners-up to the SNP with 10 seats – two behind the winners.

And he admitted independence was a major issue along with concerns about a lack of jobs created by the previous Labour administration.

He said: “It has been a steady progress over the last number of years – the previous group of seven councillors worked well and obviously the electorate felt we did a good job.

“The two big issues were independence which allowed Councillor Tim Billings to get returned on Arran and that increased our vote on the North Coast.

"He is a very hard-working councillor who has raised concerns about the ferries.

“He worked really hard for the last five years and has been well rewarded.

“A local businessman I spoke to the other day congratulated me on being elected.

"He has a real concern about independence and the fact Nicola Sturgeon is off to America to punt the idea despite all the economic difficulties and the war in Europe. We are 100 per cent against it. People don’t want it.”

Cllr Marshall says improved employment is a huge priority for the incoming administration.

“Also North Ayrshire continues to be a very deprived part of the country and we don’t feel the past administration has done enough to bring new jobs to the area which would give people the chance to be employed and get good wages – which is key to sorting out the deprivation,” he said.

“We are represented in all the wards this year and that was an achievement.

“Next time we might even be the majority party.”