The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland has begun a public consultation on proposals for councillor numbers and ward boundaries in the Orkney Islands Council area.
The Commission wants members of the public and local communities to let it know what they think of the proposals, so local views can be taken account of in developing final recommendations for Scottish Ministers. The consultation will run until Monday 2 December 2019.
The islands legislation introduced in 2018 allows for one or two member wards, in addition to the current three and four member wards, where a ward includes an inhabited island.
This was one of a number of changes made by the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 to underpin the Scottish Government’s objective of ensuring that there is a sustained focus across Government and the public sector to meet the needs of island communities now and in the future.
The Commission conducted a consultation on its proposals with the Council earlier this year and is now beginning a 12 week public consultation.
The current review will result in recommendations for the number of councillors on the Council and the number and boundaries of wards for the election of those councillors.
The proposals for public consultation in Orkney Islands make no changes to the number of councillors and wards. They retain 21 councillors across six wards. There are two changes to ward boundaries – by Kirkwall Harbour to create a more easily identifiable boundary and south of Kirkwall to better reflect local ties.
The recommendations, if accepted, are expected to be in place for the next local government elections in May 2022.
Ronnie Hinds, Chair of the Commission, said: “We are pleased to begin our public consultation on electoral arrangements for Orkney Islands Council area. We have already consulted the Council and have considered their views carefully before preparing the proposals published today. We now look forward to hearing the public’s views.
“We have considered the flexibility offered by the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 and while we have not proposed a one or two member ward at this stage, we would be interested in the views of local people.
“It is important that electoral arrangements for Scottish councils are effective and that our proposals deliver on requirements for electoral parity and, as far as possible, take account of local ties and special geographical considerations. Hearing local views on these issues is vitally important as we develop our final recommendations.”
The Commission’s proposals make no changes to the existing number of councillors, number of wards or ward names.
The Commission’s proposals minimise change to the existing ward boundaries, retaining three existing ward boundaries: North Isles; Stromness and South Isles; and West Mainland.
There is a proposed change to the boundary between the two Kirkwall wards – Kirkwall East and Kirkwall West and Orphir. This is amended at Kirkwall harbour to create a more easily identifiable ward boundary.
In addition, the proposed Kirkwall East ward boundary is extended southwards to better reflect local ties. It places Kirkwall airport within a Kirkwall ward.
A map showing the proposed boundary for the Kirkwall East Ward is available here, along with maps of the other Orkney wards.
Copies can also be viewed at OIC customer services and the Orkney Library in Kirkwall and at the Warehouse Buildings in Stromness.
Under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, the Commission is required to conduct electoral reviews at intervals of eight to 12 years. One of the main reasons we undertake reviews is that the population, and therefore the electorate, of any local authority area is constantly changing, with migration into or out of areas as well as within the same area. As a result of these changes, some councillors may represent considerably more or fewer electors than other councillors in the same council area.
The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 requires the Commission to review the six councils containing inhabited islands (Argyll and Bute, Highland, North Ayrshire, Orkney, Shetland and Na h-Eileanan an Iar) as soon as practicable. The Commission will make its recommendations for these six council areas to Scottish Ministers by May 2021, in order that the resulting wards can be used for the local government elections in May 2022.
When reviewing electoral arrangements, the Commission is required to take account of the following factors:
Where a ward contains an inhabited island, the Commission can recommend that it elects between one and four councillors. In all other circumstances a ward must return either three or four councillors.