IT is the annual award that no-one wants to win – the prize for being Scotland's most dismal town.

And now a council chief has come out fighting after learning his town centre is in line to pick up the dreaded Plook on the Plinth award.

Councillor Bill McIntosh, leader of South Ayrshire Council, said he was surprised and disappointed to learn that Ayr had been nominated for the unwanted title, which is part of Scottish architecture magazine Urban Realm's Carbuncle awards.

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Ayr is up against Leslie in Fife and Broxburn in West Lothian, which have all been picked because they "harbour a variety of ills".

But Mr McIntosh said his town did not deserve to be included in such undistinguished company.

He said: "While we fully recognise that there are improvements to be made within our town centre, I believe it's a considerable stretch to put it forward as one of the most dismal towns in the country.

"This nomination undermines the positive work being taken forward in Ayr town centre, not just by the council, but by private sector landlords, local retailers and residents, who are committed to enhancing Ayr town centre to be the best it can be.

"We can only hope the judges of the Carbuncle Awards recognise the many positives our town centre has to offer and the ongoing work to make it even better."

The Carbuncle Awards were created to provoke debate about the quality of development in Scotland's towns and cities.

Last year the Plook on the Plinth award was picked up by Linwood in Renfrewshire for being the most dreary town in Scotland.

Urban Realm editor John Glenday believes the economic downturn creates the right conditions to shine a light on urban blackspots.

He said: "Our towns are under greater pressure than ever before, suffering continued dissipation of resources. There is flagging retail, an exodus of the young and a planning and legal system that often seems perversely designed to throttle rather than nurture.

"The Carbuncle Awards are an antidote to this insidious decline which has hit our towns since the onset of recession in 2008."

He called on people to nominate other towns for the awards.