Steve Sankey for the Scottish Greens made history today, Friday 5th May, when he was elected as an Orkney councillor. This is the first time any person from a mainstream political party has broken through the anonymity of the ‘Independent’ tag. Steve was delighted with the result although it was a close run thing in the ward of East Mainland, South Ronaldsay and Burray where he was elected at the third stage.
The local council elections in Scotland use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) System which ensures that those elected are done so on a proportional basis. Voters rank candidates numerically, however, looking at some ballot papers there are still people putting crosses and even ticks.
The overall turnout was 49.7% which means that more than half of those eligible to vote in Orkney did not do so. The polling stations were open from 7am till 10pm and it was a beautiful day so it is very hard to explain why people did not engage with the election process. Orkney Islands Council delivers all the services that most directly affect people: education, social care, refuse collection, council tax, etc and have more powers coming their way with the Islands Bill currently making its way through the Scottish Parliament.
- Turnout 47.3%
- Votes cast 1,641
Both Steven Heddle and Gwenda Shearer were elected at the first stage. Steven was the convener in the last council and that position will be up for grabs again. Elected at stage 2 was John Ross Scott and finally at stage 7 David Dawson.
Kirkwall West and Orphir
- Turnout 42.3%
- Votes cast 1,466
Leslie Manson romped home with 646 votes cast for him and also elected at the first stage was John Richards standing for the Orkney Manifesto Group. The rest of the votes were transferred a few times and it was not until stage 5 that Barbara Foulkes was elected and stage 7 for Sandy Cowie.
- Turnout 52.2%
- Votes cast 1,847
Three candidates were returned at stage 1 Rachael King, Harvey Johnston and Owen Tierney with Duncan Allan Tullock joining them at stage 6.
East Mainland, South Ronaldsay and Burray
- Turnout 52.7%
- Votes cast 1,436
Andrew Drever was clearly ahead in this ward and elected at stage 1. For the other candidates it was a close run affair with Steve Sankey elected for the Scottish Greens at stage 3 and Norman Craigie at stage 4.
- Turnout 58.7%
- Votes cast 1,080
Graham Sinclair did well here being elected at stage 1 and it wasn’t until stage 3 that saw Kevin Woodbridge and finally stage 8 for Stephen Clackson to get a result.
In total 64 ballot papers were rejected. The high turnout in the North Isles may be due to the election there being by postal ballot. There was no election for Stromness and the South Isles where only 3 candidates stood and were duly elected: Rob Crichton, James Stockan and Magnus Thomson.
Orkney now has elected its 21 councillors, only 3 of whom are women, to take the county forward for the next few years. A General Election now looms as does the fall out from the UK leaving the EU. The newly elected councillors will have significant issues to deal with. Orkney voted 62% to Remain in the EU and its elected representatives will now have to look at ways to mitigate the effects of the decision to leave for the Orkney economy .
Reporter: Fiona Grahame
And you can even watch a video of it – Orkney Islands Council Election 2017