In preparation for the local government election on 4 May the Orkney Manifesto Group has been making some decisions about its future.
The current convener of the party, Councillor Bill Stout has decided to retire from active politics at the end of the current term of Orkney Islands Council. He will hand over the role of convener to Councillor Rachael King on 13 March, the likely date on which the election will be formally called.
The OMG confirms that Councillor King will seek re-election in the West Mainland Ward. Councillor John Richards will also be nominated to stand for re-election to his current seat, in Kirkwall West and Orphir.
There are no further announcements of prospective candidates at this stage.
Cllr Stout comments “It has been a very great privilege to serve as a councillor for Kirkwall East on Orkney Islands Council. In spite of the occasional frustrations, it has been rewarding to learn the workings of local government and to make some contribution. I feel sad that I will not be able to apply personally the many lessons I’ve learnt, but having come to this game late in the day, it’s already time to make way for younger players.
“One of the many advantages of being a councillor from within the Orkney Manifesto Group is the possibility of continuity that the party provides. In our first term as a local political party on the council we have learnt as a group, as well as in our individual capacities. Those lessons will be carried forward by the group.
“I am delighted that Rachael has agreed to take on the leadership of the party. No-one who has seen or heard Rachael in action can fail to have been impressed by her energy, integrity and lucidity. I am confident that she and John will continue to make a very valuable contribution to public service in Orkney.
“Although I will not have a public role in future, I do hope to continue to play a backroom part in the Orkney Manifesto Group in an administrative and support capacity.”
Cllr King adds “It is with real sadness for both John and myself that any future we might have in the chamber will be without Bill. His thoughtfulness, considerable insight and above all his calm voice of reason has been something that I personally have valued beyond words. Whilst we respect his decision to stand down, we are grateful that his commitment to Orkney will not be lost to us, as he will continue to bring all those qualities and experience to the Orkney Manifesto Group.”
Cllr Richards, in his capacity as membership secretary and nominating officer for the OMG, comments “The upcoming election is a welcome time of opportunity for fresh blood to be brought into the council. Anyone who is considering standing for election for the first time and is perhaps interested in doing so as a representative of the Orkney Manifesto Group should contact me in the first instance. We will be very happy to provide information and support to help you make your decision.
“As a party we would welcome more diversity, especially more women and more young people on the council. I am delighted that the OMG is leading the way in the appointment of Rachael as its convener.”