A 5 person delegation from Orkney Islands Council is to visit Norway despite the cuts taking place across services and the rise in the Council Tax.
From May 29th to 1st June Council Convener Harvey Johnston, Chair of Development and Infrastructure Graham Sinclair, Vice-Chair of Education, Leisure and Housing John Ross Scott, Director of Development and Infrastructure Gavin Barr and Head of Executive Support, Karen Greaves will take part in the official visit.
It is being funded through the OIC twinning budget. It is 10 years since an Orkney delegation visited Norway.
Convener of the council Harvey Johnston said:
“2018 marks 35 years since a twinning agreement was signed with Hordaland, with our Norwegian friends visiting us as part of that agreement twice a year, in May and at Christmas.
“It’s a rare occasion for us to make a return visit and with ten years having passed since the last one, we’re taking the opportunity to honour our twinning agreement with a reciprocal visit.
“We have many commonalities with our Norwegian counterparts and we have much to learn from them. The three day trip for our small delegation is full to the brim with meetings and educational visits, during which we’ll learn a great deal on Norway’s take on issues such as renewables, volume tourism, education, and hydrogen and electric transport.
“The visit will also allow us to discuss re-establishing the student exchange programme with Hordaland, providing a fantastic cultural opportunity for our young people.”
Amongst the many cuts to services in Orkney is the proposed closure of St Colms, Kirkwall. A petition has been launched to prevent the closure of the valuable service to adults with additional needs.
You can access the petition here: Stop the closure of St Colm’s Day Centre, Kirkwall
“The Kirkwall based centre provides daily services to adults with learning and physical disabilities. The service users, from all over the county, are fully engaged with craft workshops, card making, woodworking, gardening and assisting in the cafe. The skilled and caring staff make the clients feel valued, supported and offer them a circle of life long friends. The centre enables the client’s full time carers to maintain their own careers without them becoming a burden on the benefits system. “
Over 1000 people have already signed the petition.
Orkney Islands Council have issued the following statement:
“We have written to all service users and their families this week to advise that a consultation process on future service provision for adults with learning disabilities will be getting underway from May 28 and encouraging them to contribute to it when it begins.”
“We’d stress once again, despite stories to the contrary in the local media and on social networking sites, that no decisions have or will be taken until the consultation has been completed and the Integration Joint Board has considered the results later this year.”
“(The Integration Joint Board plans and oversees the delivery of community health and social care services in Orkney)”
Reporter: Fiona Grahame