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Motion on Orkney’s future ‘not about joining Norway’, says council leader

He said the islands have been ‘restricted’ and ‘held down’ by both the Scottish and UK governments.

A motion which would see Orkney Islands Council investigate different methods of governance is “not about joining Norway”, the leader of the local authority has said.

The notice of motion lodged by Councillor James Stockan was debated on Tuesday, amid media speculation the islands could seek to leave the UK.

The wording of the motion, if passed, would see council officers publish a report on options that could be available to the islands on how they are governed, including looking at the “Nordic connections” of the archipelago and crown dependencies such as Jersey and Guernsey.

Orkney was under Norwegian and Danish control until 1472 when the islands were given to Scotland as part of Margaret of Denmark’s wedding dowry to King James III of Scotland.

But Mr Stockan said the push is “not about us joining Norway”.

He added: “There is a far bigger suite of options here – this could even be that we could get our money direct from the Treasury in London and look after our own future.”

In a speech which raised a number of issues with the Scottish and UK governments, including funding settlements and the much-discussed issues surrounding Scotland’s ferry network, Mr Stockan said: “I have been a councillor now for 20 years, but for the last number I’ve been in negotiation with our governments to get what I believe is an equitable solution of position for the Orkney Islands in funding and in the opportunity that we have in and around these islands to benefit not just us, but to benefit our neighbours, to benefit our nation and to benefit the world.

Houses on Orkney
The Orkney isles were under Norwegian and Danish control until 1472 (Alamy/PA)

“But we have been restricted in every conversation, we have been held down, and what I would say is we all know most of what I could say with regard to the discrimination that we’ve had against this community from governments in the funding settlement we have.”

Orkney, he said, receives less funding per head from Government than fellow island authorities in Shetland and the Western Isles.

On Monday, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told journalists there is “no mechanism for the conferral of crown dependency or overseas territory status on any part of the UK”, adding: “Fundamentally, we are stronger as one United Kingdom, we have no plans to change that.”

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