North Ayrshire is one of 32 council areas in Scotland. It has a population of roughly 136,000 people. It is located in the southwest of Scotland, and borders the areas of Inverclyde to the north, Renfrewshire to the northeast and East Ayrshire and South Ayrshire to the east and south respectively.
The area was created in 1996 as a successor to the district of Cunninghame. The council headquarters are located in Irvine, which is the largest town. The area also contains the towns of Ardrossan, Beith, Dalry, Kilbirnie, Kilwinning, Largs, Saltcoats, Skelmorlie, Stevenston, West Kilbride, as well as the Isle of Arran and the Cumbrae Isles.
Towns in the north (Fairlie, Largs and West Kilbride) are affluent commuter towns, while Ardrossan, Saltcoats, and Stevenston in the south, are rather more industrial and beset with high unemployment. The inland Garnock Valley towns (Beith, Dalry and Kilbirnie) were once a centre of steel and textile production, however this has long since gone. Tourism is the main industry on Arran and Cumbrae, however the number of holiday homes on the latter has begun to squeeze locals out of the housing market. Regeneration is currently taking place at Ardrossan Harbour and Irvine town centre, and there has been a rapid increase in the building of new housing in recent years.
The Labour Party has formed a minority administration in the local council since 2007. In the Westminster parliament, the area forms a parliamentary constituency and is represented by Katy Clark MP of the Labour Party, and with a majority of over 9,000, it is regarded as a Labour safe seat. In the Scottish Parliament, the constituency is divided into Cunninghame North and Cunninghame South, both represented by Scottish National Party MSPs.