Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has encouraged council bosses to have another go at applying for cash from the UK Government's Levelling Up Fund for much-needed improvements to one of Ayrshire's busiest road junctions.

The government rejected a bid for cash to carry out upgrade work at the Bellfield interchange, where the A71, A76 and A77 meet along with one of the busiest roads in and out of Kilmarnock.

Mr Jack said East Ayrshire Council should ‘fine tune’ its bid and return for the third round of applications to the scheme.

The authority was successful with a bid for cash to improve the Palace Theatre in Kilmarnock, which received £20 million from the fund.

Mr Jack said: “There is another round coming, so they should look at their bid and fine tune it.

“I would absolutely encourage them to do that - as I would with any local authorities who missed out.

“A number of those who were successful missed out in round one, so absolutely, come back again.”

Council bosses said a great deal of work had been carried out on the plans for the Bellfield interchange, but that they would have to look carefully at whether the upgrade plans were still feasible without cash from the Levelling Up fund.

A spokesperson for East Ayrshire Council said: “The Bellfield Interchange was included in the application process as it was recognised as having significant capacity and safety challenges that need to be addressed to support strategic development and investment locally.

“The Ayrshire Roads Alliance developed options for improvements to journey times, allowing for increased capacity and delivering safety improvements.

“This included introducing traffic lights, removing hard verges to increase the road width to introduce a third lane and constructing a separate pedestrian/cycle bridge to support connectivity between Kilmarnock and Hurlford.

“Significant work has already been carried out on the improvement plans for the Bellfield interchange as part of the application process and these plans will now need be further assessed by the council for feasibility and affordability.”