Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Orkney council to explore Nordic connections as first step investigating ‘alternative governance models’ approved by committee

While some called the proposal "measured and intelligent", one opponent fears it could lead Orkney "down the dark cul-de-sac of constitutional grief".

Orkney islands council
Orkney council chambers in Kirkwall. Image: Andrew Stewart/DC Thomson

Orkney councillors have given the green light to the first steps of a plan for investigating alternative governance models, following on from this summer’s media frenzy.

Orkney Islands Council’s policy and resources committee were presented with a new report on Tuesday morning, which gave an idea of how the council will carry out that investigation.

Councillors roundly lauded the plan. Councillor Rachael King called it “adult, measured [and] intelligent”.

The report followed the full council agreeing, on July 4, that the local authority should investigate a wide range of alternative governance models that could be for the county.

Frustrations over the council’s treatment by the UK and Scottish governments prompted the move, spearheaded with a motion from council leader James Stockan.

A complete lack of support in securing funding for new internal ferries has stood as a particular issue with the council in recent years.

The idea that Orkney may want to strengthen its already strong connections with Norway caught headlines around the world. 

The first steps in Orkney Islands Council’s investigation into alternative governance

A four-stage plan was presented to the committee, asking the councillors to give the green light for the first stage to get under way.

And approval was given.

The next steps will see a group within the council – the Constitutional Reform Consultative Group – overseeing a number of tasks being carried out.

While this group existed for a number of years and councillors had been assigned to it, the group hadn’t met since the formation of the new council.

This changed ahead of today’s meeting when it gathered on September 5.

The group is made up of council leader James Stockan, depute leader Heather Woodbridge, and convener Graham Bevan.

Orkney Council leader James Stockan, who says isles council should explore links to Norway.
Orkney Council leader James Stockan. Image: Orkney Islands Council.

Interestingly, three of the six councillors who spoke out against the investigation are also on the consultative group.

Under the plan, the council will be making sure it is using powers and opportunities already open to it as it also starts to look at alternative governance models.

This will involve briefing other councillors on previous efforts to secure more autonomy such as in 2017.

The council will also look at whether it’s making use of powers under the Islands (Scotland) Act, and looking at how the council can communicate the contribution it makes to Scotland, the UK and the world.

Council to look at current opportunities before setting out new options for governance

They’ll also look at opportunities in the Single Isles Authority model and the proposed National care service.

And of course, they’ll get the ball rolling in terms of looking at alternative governance models.

As the council leader asked in his motion, they’ll look at “Nordic connections, crown dependencies, and other options for greater subsidiarity and autonomy”.

Sometime early next year a report will appear which specifically sets out some of the options for alternative governance.

Stages two and three of the plan will see the options narrowed down and include public consultation.

Stage four would be the delivery of the preferred option.

However, each of these stages will also have to gain approval further down the road.

Councillors endorse ‘slow and steady’ plan

Councillors were generally in favour of the plan, which was called “slow and steady” by councillor Leslie Manson.

However, concerns over the wider implications of embarking on the investigation do remain.

Councillor David Dawson said he was worried about the “unforeseen consequences” of what they’re doing.

He also cited the pressures on staff and money for the council, which has been lacking in both recently.

Councillor Dawson attempted to challenge a section of the plan, but this failed as it clashed with the original motion approved in July.

Mr Dawson had attempted to remove the obligation to look into crown dependencies, overseas territories, and Nordic connections from the plan.

In particular reference to the Nordic territories, he said “it could become a costly distraction luring us down the dark cul-de-sac of constitutional grief”.

He also said those parts of the investigation could possibly “strange what could potentially be valuable work”.

However, Mr Dawson’s amendment never made it to the vote.

As such, the first steps of the plan were unanimously approved by the committee.