CUMNOCK and Doon Valley is leading the way in gender equality after returning another four female councillors.

Elaine Dinwoodie (Labour), Claire Leitch, Jacqui Todd (both SNP) and Alyson Simmons (Conservative) were elected on Thursday as all three local wards voted women in.

Nationally, only one in four councillors elected were women but Cumnock and Doon Valley has a ratio of better than 1:2 women elected compared to men.

East Ayrshire Council on the whole also bucks the national trend with 12 of the 32 councillors women. All nine wards returned at least one female councillor, with Kilmarnock North electing twice as many women as men.

Ballochmyle councillor Leitch was delighted to be elected and in a ward where the gender balance was split right down the middle.

She said: “I am extremely happy and proud to be elected to represent the ward where I live and bring my wee girl up in.

“I’m so happy as well that the gender balance is great . In the ward we have two males and two females from all walks of life.

“I am extremely, extremely happy about it.”

Cllr Leitch also felt that the gender balance could help people in her ward to be better represented at Council HQ.

She added: “In the next five years I want everybody in the ward of Ballochmyle to have strong representation, to know that they have councillors in that chamber fighting for their rights, to know that they are going to get their fair share of resources and that they’ve got people in there who they know who to go if they have any problems and that they feel confident to speak for them.”

Fellow SNP councillor Jim Roberts could also see the benefits of increasing the diversity of the council.

Cllr Roberts said: “I think you look at equalities and diversity and I think that’s what all the political parties are driving for. It gives a better balance within the council regardless what the administration is.”