East Ayrshire’s streets are among the worst in the country for litter, according to a shock study by Keep Scotland Beautiful.

The annual survey of litter strewn areas across the country found 11.6 per cent of East Ayrshire’s streets were “unacceptably dirty”.

That’s a rise from just 6.3 per cent back in 2011.

However, Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB) said it did not seek to name and shame local authorities which struggled with rubbish on their streets, saying the entire country is facing a “litter emergency” .

Figures showed 12.5 per cent of neighbouring South Ayrshire’s streets were found to be unacceptably dirty, compared with just 3.2 per cent back in 2011.

And in North Ayrshire, the figures were the third worst in Scotland at 15.4 per cent, compared with 3.7 per cent in 2011.

The worst authorities for littered streets were Glasgow (15.8 per cent) and Inverclyde (16.1 per cent) .

The study showed that areas of deprivation were the worst hit by the litter problem.

Kevin Wells, strategic lead, communities, East Ayrshire Council, said: "The street cleanliness figures for East Ayrshire have reduced in line with service reductions, peoples' habits and moving to empowered teams which allows employees to make local decisions on service delivery.

"There have also been changes and updates to how systems are implemented since 2011/12 which have affected the overall scoring across the board.

"East Ayrshire's street cleanliness figures have  remained consistent within our benchmarking club which compares authority’s that have a similar geographical size and population.

"The 2022/23 audit of East Ayrshire Council, showed that  88.4 per cent of sites visited recorded an acceptable litter grade – an A, B+ or B for both transects giving an overall KPI which was an improvement on  the figure for the previous year of 87.4 per cent.

"It should also be noted that as well as assessing streets, open spaces adjacent to streets in each sample are assessed for litter presence. In 2022/23 147 sites were assessed, the majority of these in residential areas."

For decades, Keep Scotland Beautiful has been carrying out its gold-standard comprehensive monitoring, called Local Environmental Audit and Management Systems or LEAMS, on behalf of councils .

Inspectors count rubbish, everything from cigarette butts, crisp packets and tin cans to fly-tipped mattresses and fridges.

Barry Fisher, KSB’s chief executive, explained: “There is a litter emergency in Scotland. And our charity’s evidence shows that litter levels are worse in high density urban areas where lots of people live, work and visit.

“We can see that litter levels correlate with our own actions - our unsustainable consumption of stuff, our patterns of behaviour where we live, shop and visit, and the choices we make when we dispose of items.”

Mr Fisher added: “Local authorities can and should do more to tackle litter and waste, but there has been a decline in public resources available across the board,” he said. 

“We can blame the local authorities, or we can help.  And I think we all, producers, businesses and individuals included, have a responsibility to act and not to make the situation worse

“We now also have three consecutive years of data highlighting that the majority of people in Scotland believe that litter is a problem in their area (70 per cent) and across Scotland as a whole (90 per cent).

“The climate, nature and litter emergencies are all interlinked; with unsustainable consumption at the heart of all three. 

“We urge everyone to play their part and support our efforts to keep Scotland beautiful.”