Review of electoral arrangements: Orkney Islands council area – public consultation

Issued on behalf of The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland has begun a public consultation on proposals for councillor numbers and ward boundaries in Orkney Islands council area. The consultation will run until Monday 2 December 2019.

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 islands legislation introduced in 2018 allows for use of 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 from 20 March to 20 May 2019 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 6 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.

We expect our recommendations, if accepted, 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.”


Under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 the Commission is required to conduct electoral reviews at intervals of 8 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 6 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:

  • The interests of effective and convenient local government
  • Within each council, each councillor should represent the same number of electors as closely as possible
  • Local ties which would be broken by making a particular boundary
  • The desirability of fixing boundaries that are easily identifiable
  • Special geographical considerations

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.

Maps of the proposals are available on request.

Information on the review can also be found on the Commission’s website.

Our proposals for Orkney Islands Council area  

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.

The proposals only make changes to ward boundaries by Kirkwall.

The boundary between the two Kirkwall wards is amended by Kirkwall harbour to create a more easily identifiable ward boundary.

The proposed Kirkwall East ward boundary is extended southwards to better reflect local ties. It places Kirkwall airport within a Kirkwall ward.

The Commission has retained the existing North Isles ward with a wide variation from electoral parity or wide imbalance in number of electors per councillor. It considered special geographical circumstances in the ward due to it comprising rural, sparsely populated islands with limited transport links.


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