A CRACKDOWN on youth disorder is being launched in Largs - after we revealed yobs had caused damage running into thousands of pounds at a prized £400,000 sports hub.

Clubs, police, schools and community workers are coming together to try and find a solution to the local youth disorder issue after serious damage was done to Inverclyde Sports Centre's football pitch.

As reported recently, vandals burnt holes in the astroturf surface and smashed dugout windows at the recently revamped facility.

The matter was discussed at the recent Largs Community Council meeting where it was revealed that police patrols have now been stepped up.

Sergeant Mark Semple, of Largs Police, explained: "There has been an issue with youths going onto the pitch and causing problems.

"We are going to focus some attention on that over the coming weeks and we are speaking to Largs Academy with a view to identifying anyone responsible - and to look at a long-term solution.

"The gate was locked but the youths have been climbing over it to gain access.

"I am going to speak to the centre manager to see if there is any more that we can do in tandem to future damage being done."

In recent years, there have also been problems at Largs Thistle's ground, with dugouts damage and holes again burnt in the playing surface.

Denise Fraser, who is a community worker with North Ayrshire Council, says that she hopes to chat to both Thistle and sports centre bosses to try and hatch a plan to combat the yobs.

Largs Community Council chairman Jim Phillips described the recent incident as 'a great pity'.

He added: "This is likely to be a small minority threatening to ruin it for everyone."

Council bosses had been running football events at Barrfields on Friday evenings in a bid to divert youths from causing problems, but were sparsely attended. Last year a mobile football facility was set up on the seafront by the council, but Denise says that would not be available this year.

Thistle have also indicated they are will to look at organised and supervised events.

Inverclyde Sports Centre manager Brian Fleeting spoke of his shock after the pitch - which is often used by the Scotland national rugby team - was vandalised.

He said: "We recognise that young people need somewhere to play sport and there is a small synthetic surface which is open for them to use without any charge. Instead they have decided to hang around here, drink and cause damage."

CCTV footage is currently being combed by police in a bid to identify the culprits.

The new astroturf pitch was installed following a major investment by sportscotland - and has hosted Scottish Rugby, Kilmarnock FC and Glasgow Warriors. It was also used by the Largs Thistle under-20 development squad last season.