As soon as grit bins have been filled they are being emptied again by workmen, who are filling up their vehicles for their own personal use according to reports made to East Ayrshire Council.

Grit bins across the region were emptied rapidly due to the long period of icy weather experienced since the turn of the year and local folk with good intentions found they were unable to distribute grit as there was none left.

In response, many headed to the council’s service for reporting empty grit bins hoping to have their local ones refilled, only for them to be emptied again minutes later.

The council has been seeking to get the public on board to form what they’re calling ‘winter resilience groups’, an initiative designed to get local people helping out with the maintenance of roads and paths in their area.

They say it has been made more difficult by the actions of those taking grit for personal use.

Commenting on the reports of grit being taken, a council spokesperson said: “This is obviously very disappointing as these bins are provided for use by everyone within our communities.”

They also said in a post on Facebook that: “We are getting reports of works vehicles pulling up and emptying grit bins as soon as they are filled. If you see this happening in your street please get in touch with the vehicle registration number so that we can report to Police Scotland. Thank you.”

Many people have raised the point however, that perhaps those taking the grit from bins were doing so to spread it in their community. The very thing the council had asked them to do by joining the winter resilience groups.

Som e people voiced concern that intentions were being misunderstood, one Facebook user commented on the council’s post: “Did you not put a post up yesterday about helping neighbours. I’d be fuming if I went to the effort of collecting grit, helping my neighbours and then having a visit from the police.

“I get that people shouldn’t be taking it all - but seriously it has no other use that I can think of... so I’ll be thinking twice of helping neighbours. Whether the police do anything or not, the thought of police at my door is enough to put me off... total catch 22 now!”

It was suggested by some users that the vans that were pulling up to empty the grit bins were not doing so in a work capacity, but rather, using the most appropriate vehicle for the task of transporting grit to treat the roads and pavements of their local community.

The council said on Friday, January 8 they had made 299 gritting operations and spread 2,050 tonnes of salt since Sunday, December 27.