Orkney Islands Council

Last updated
Orkney Islands in Scotland.svg
2007 Flag of Orkney.svg
Coordinates: 59°00′N3°00′W / 59.000°N 3.000°W / 59.000; -3.000 Coordinates: 59°00′N3°00′W / 59.000°N 3.000°W / 59.000; -3.000
Admin HQ Kirkwall
  BodyOrkney Islands Council
  Control Independent
  Total988.8 km2 (381.8 sq mi)
Area rank Ranked 16th
 (mid-2018 est.)
  Rank Ranked 32nd
  Density22/km2 (58/sq mi)
ONS code S12000023
ISO 3166 code GB-ORK
Website www.orkney.gov.uk

The Orkney Islands Council is the local authority for Orkney, Scotland. It was established in 1975 by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 and was largely unaffected by the Scottish local government changes of the mid-1990s.

Orkney archipelago and council area in northern Scotland

Orkney, also known as the Orkney Islands, is an archipelago in the Northern Isles of Scotland, situated off the north coast of the island of Great Britain. Orkney is 10 miles (16 km) north of the coast of Caithness and has about 70 islands, of which 20 are inhabited. The largest island, Mainland, is often referred to as "the Mainland", and has an area of 523 square kilometres (202 sq mi), making it the sixth-largest Scottish island and the tenth-largest island in the British Isles. The largest settlement and administrative centre is Kirkwall.

Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 United Kingdom legislation

The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom that altered local government in Scotland on 16 May 1975.


It provides services in the areas of Environmental Health, Roads, Social Work, Community Development, Organisational Development, Economic Development, Building Standards, Trading Standards, Housing, Waste, Education, Burial Grounds, Port and Harbours and others. [1] The council is allowed to collect Council Tax.

Council Tax

Council Tax is a local taxation system used in England, Scotland and Wales. It is a tax on domestic property which was introduced in 1993 by the Local Government Finance Act 1992, replacing the short lived Community Charge, which in turn replaced the domestic rates. Each property is assigned one of eight bands in England and Scotland, or nine bands in Wales, based on property value, and the tax is set as a fixed amount for each band. The more valuable the property, the higher the tax, except for properties valued above £320,000. Some property is exempt from the tax, and some people are exempt from the tax, while some get a discount.

The council is also the harbour authority for Orkney and its Marine Services division manages the operation of the islands' 29 piers and harbours. [2]


Between 2012–2017 the council consisted of 21 members, all of whom are independent, that is they did not stand as representatives of a political party. [3]

After the 2017 election there are 18 Independents, 2 Orkney Manifesto Group (OMG) councillors and 1 Green councillor. [4] Of these, 18 councillors were actually elected; the remaining 3 were declared on the election day "as the result of the uncontested election in the Stromness and South Isles ward, where the number of candidates was equal to or less than the number of seats available". [5]

The 2017 Orkney Council election took place on 4 May 2017 to elect members of Orkney Islands Council. The election used the six wards created as a result of the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004, with each ward electing three or four Councillors using the single transferable vote system a form of proportional representation, with 21 Councillors being elected.

Council Structure

Last election
Independent 18
Orkney Manifesto Group 2
Scottish Green 1

See also

Constitutional status of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles

The island groups of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are all politically integral parts of Scotland. Their constitutional status has periodically been discussed, for example during the Scottish independence referendum campaign. Currently, they are council areas with the same constitutional status as the other 29 local government areas. The three island councils are the only local authorities among the 32 in the country where independent councillors form a majority.

The Lerwick Declaration refers to an announcement made by First Minister Alex Salmond on behalf of the Scottish Government on 25 July 2013, which revealed that a ministerial working group would examine the prospect of decentralising power to Shetland, Orkney, and the Western Isles.

Related Research Articles

Local government in Scotland is organised through 32 unitary authorities designated as councils which consist of councillors elected every five years by registered voters in each of the council areas.

Caithness Historic county in Scotland

Caithness is a historic county, registration county and lieutenancy area of Scotland.

Northern Isles island group

The Northern Isles are a pair of archipelagos off the north coast of mainland Scotland, comprising Orkney and Shetland. The climate is cool and temperate and much influenced by the surrounding seas. There are a total of 26 inhabited islands with landscapes of the fertile agricultural islands of Orkney contrasting with the more rugged Shetland islands to the north, where the economy is more dependent on fishing and the oil wealth of the surrounding seas. Both have a developing renewable energy industry. They also share a common Pictish and Norse history. Both island groups were absorbed into the Kingdom of Scotland in the 15th century and remained part of the country following the formation of the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707, and later the United Kingdom after 1801. The islands played a significant naval role during the world wars of the 20th century.

Tavish Scott British politician

Tavish Hamilton Scott is a Scottish politician and former MSP for Shetland. He was Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats from 2008 to 2011. He stepped down after the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, in which the Liberal Democrats were reduced to five seats, down from 16 in the previous parliament.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Place

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is the local government council for Na h-Eileanan Siar council area of Scotland, comprising the Outer Hebrides. It is based in Stornoway in the Isle of Lewis.

Highlands and Islands Area of Scotland

The Highlands and Islands of Scotland are broadly the Scottish Highlands, plus Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) is the national association of Scottish councils and acts as an employers' association for its 32 member authorities.

Isle of Anglesey County Council British administrative body

The Isle of Anglesey County Council is the governing body for the county of Anglesey, one of the unitary authority areas of Wales. The council has 30 councillors who represent 11 multi-member electoral wards.

1973 United Kingdom local elections

The first elections to the new local authorities established by the Local Government Act 1972 in England and Wales and the new Northern Ireland district councils created by the Local Government Act 1972 took place in 1973. Elections to the existing Greater London Council also took place.

Council of the Isles of Scilly

The Council of the Isles of Scilly is a sui generis unitary local government authority covering the Isles of Scilly off the west coast of Cornwall. It is currently made up of 16 seats, with all councillors being Independents as of 2 May 2013. The council was created in 1890 as the Isles of Scilly Rural District Council and was renamed in 1974.

Shetland Islands Council Place

The Shetland Islands Council is the local authority for Shetland, Scotland. It was established by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 and is the successor to the former Lerwick Town Council and Zetland County Council. This council was established in 1975 and was largely unaffected by the Scottish local government changes of the mid-1990s.

The Royal Commission on Local Government in Scotland, usually called the Wheatley Commission or the Wheatley Report, was published in September 1969 by the chairmanship of Lord Wheatley. Its recommendations led to a new system of regional and district councils, introduced in 1975 by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.

2012 Scottish local elections

The 2012 Scottish local elections, were held on 3 May, in all 32 local authorities. The Scottish National Party (SNP) overtook Labour to win the highest share of the vote, and retained and strengthened its position as the party with most councillors. Labour also made gains, while the Liberal Democrats experienced meltdown, falling behind the Conservatives. For the first time since the introduction of the Single Transferable Vote system, the SNP won majority control of 2 councils, from no overall control. Labour also won majority control of 2 councils from no overall control, while retaining majority control over 2 councils.

2007 Shetland Islands Council election

Elections to Shetland Islands Council were held on 3 May 2007 the same day as the other Scottish local government elections and the Scottish Parliament general election. The election was the first one using seven new wards created as a results of the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004. Each ward elected three or four councillors using the single transferable vote system, a form of proportional representation. The new wards replaced 22 single-member wards which used the plurality system of election. The Council was one of only three in Scotland with a majority of elected members who were independents.

1994 United Kingdom local elections

Local elections were held in the United Kingdom in 1994. The results showed a continued decline for the governing Conservatives, with the third placed party, the Liberal Democrats, as the main beneficiaries.

2013 Isle of Wight Council election

The 2013 Isle of Wight Council election was held on 2 May 2013 to elect all 40 members for a four-year term to the Isle of Wight Council, a unitary authority which governs the Isle of Wight. Going into the election, the Conservative Party was looking to gain a third term in power after first being elected to overall control in 2005, but in one of the shock results of the wider local elections being held in the country, the Conservatives lost overall control of the council, having been reduced to 15 seats, 6 short of a majority of 21. The 'Island Independents', a mutually supporting group of candidates and councillors running as independents, gained the same number of seats, whilst other independents, UKIP, Labour, and a Liberal Democrat made up the remainder.

1974 Scottish local elections

There were elections for the Scottish district councils on Tuesday 7 May 1974, for both the new regional and district councils, between the two United Kingdom general elections of February and October in that same year.


  1. Council, orkney.gov.uk. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  2. Marine Services, orkneyharbours.com. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  3. "Social Work Inspection Agency: Performance Inspection Orkney Islands Council 2006. Chapter 2: Context." The Scottish Government. Retrieved 8 September 2009.
  4. "Orkney Islands Council : Election 2017 Results". BBC News. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  5. "Orkney's results declared for the 2017 Scottish Local Government elections". Orkney Islands Council. 5 May 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2017.