It’s all change at the upper echelons of Orkney Islands Council as Councillor James Stockan takes over as Leader with Leslie Manson as his Deputy. As Leader, Councillor Stockan will provide the political leadership and direction of OIC. He will also represent the Council at the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA), the Highlands and Islands Convention and other relevant external organisations.
Councillor Stockan’s role as Leader also involves the promotion and support of open and transparent government by ensuring that decisions are taken properly, openly and publicly, unless there is a statutory basis for the decision to be taken in private. The secrecy surrounding many OIC decisions taken in private was an issue highlighted by many of the electorate during the local elections.
Councillor Harvey Johnston is now the Convener of OIC. He will represent the council at civic and ceremonial occasions. A key task for him will be to develop and maintain partnership working with other organisations, and to champion The Orkney Partnership to support the Local Outcomes Improvement Plan and Council priorities. He is also charged with promoting open government.
The Chairs of the Council’s main Committees were also appointed:
- Education, Leisure and Housing Committee – Councillor Rob Crichton.
- Development and infrastructure Committee – Councillor Graham Sinclair.
- Orkney Health and Care Committee – Councillor Rachael King.
- Monitoring and Audit Committee – Councillor John Richards.
- Planning Committee – Councillor Owen Tierney.
In addition, Councillor King will serve as Vice-Chair of Orkney’s Integration Joint Board, the body which plans and commissions community health and social care services in the county. Councillor King is the only female to lead a committee. Out of 21 councillors in Orkney only 3 are women.
It will be interesting to see how the new leadership of Orkney Islands Council develops. This is a time of great uncertainty for Orkney with the UK about to exit the EU and how this will affect our local economy. A change in leadership also at Shetland Islands Council has repercussions for the future direction of ‘Our Islands Our Future’ and the Islands Bill currently making its progress through the Scottish Parliament.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame