YOUNGSTERS in Largs are being targeted by an out-of-town gang in a bid to recruit them as drug dealers.

The News has learned children as young as ten playing near to the Mackerston facility have been offered illegal substances by older youths to sell on - as well as drugs to take and try for themselves.

The matter came to light after the shocked children told their parents, who raised the alarm with police.

Local councillors have called for a full police investigation to be launched while the grandmother who helped found the skatepark says she is 'horrified' by the news.

One mum told how the gang tried to lure the youngsters into getting involved.

She said: "The children, who are all aged between 10 and 13, were playing when a group of 16 to 19-year-olds, believed to be from West Kilbride, approached them, asking them if they wanted drugs.

"They then said they could get the children some to sell on.

"These men said they would give them money for doing it and that they could easily earn enough to buy fancy new trainers.

"Thankfully these young children went home and told their parents, who have taken the matter to police."

Largs gran Veronica Galbraith, a member of the steering group who set up the park, said: "Unfortunately drugs are a problem everywhere.

"I personally have not seen anything, but the children who reported the matter deserve credit for doing so.

"I am horrified that this could happen but this is the world we live in sadly.

"We always try and keep a close eye on everything at the skate park - it is popular with families, grannies, mums and dads, and the general public who go along to watch.

"I would hope that this is an isolated incident and because the matter has been reported to the police, I am hoping that they will be on top of it."

Local Labour councillor Alex Gallagher told the News he plans to raise the incident with the area's senior police officers.

"The children in this instance did the right thing by reporting the matter to their parents.

"We are all concerned about the spread of drugs and you certainly don't want to hear about attempts to recruit young people in this manner. The police need to act on this.

"I will be talking to the local police inspector and will make sure the matter is fully pursued.

"We know that drugs are a problem everywhere but we don't want that culture to take hold in Largs."

Councillor Ian Murdoch, who leads a stress and anxiety group in young people at North Ayrshire Council. said: "I am concerned.

"The park is somewhere I would class as a safe place - and obviously I want to see it stay that way.

"I would like to see the matter fully investigated and action taken."

The facility was opened at Mackerston last year after a £100,000 investment from North Coast Locality Partnership.

As well as hosting major competitions, the children who use it played an important part helping to secure the funding, as well as cleaning the facility and taking responsibility for its general upkeep.