Cruise Arrivals


Orkney Islands Council leader announces retirement

During his time as leader of Orkney Islands Council, Councillor James Stockan has held those in power at Holyrood and Westminster to account. Here, he is pictured with First Minister Humza Yousaf in 2017, then minister for transport and the islands.

Orkney Islands Council’s political leader, Councillor James Stockan has announced that he intends to retire from his role as leader — and as an elected member.

Councillor Stockan’s last day in the role will be Monday, February 5.

Commenting on his decision, Councillor Stockan said: “I’ve been planning my retirement for some time and see this as the right time to make that change. Big life decisions like this can come easy and they can come hard — and there’s elements of both here for me.

“Having been part of the council for 20 years, School Place and the goings on in the council chamber has become an intrinsic part of mine and my family’s lives.

“In that time, I’ve done my very best to serve the people and interests of Orkney well — creating plenty of ripples in the corridors of power in Edinburgh and London along the way.

“It has been a tremendous privilege to have had that responsibility bestowed upon me not just by my fellow councillors, but by people in Orkney too.

“There comes a time when there’s a natural depletion of energy required to give your very best to that level of responsibility though — and for me, after 20 years, that time has now come.

“I leave the role grateful and thankful for the experiences and opportunities it has brought me. I am confident in the ability of my fellow councillors, with the support of our officer team, to take the reins but hope to have opportunities to support Orkney politically in the future where I can.”

The arrangements for the election of a new political leader for the council and for a by-election for the vacant Stromness and South Isles seat will be announced in due course.

First elected to Orkney Islands Council in 2003, Councillor Stockan served as chair of economic development from 2005 to 2007 and then vice convener from 2007 to May 2012.

He became chairman of the development and infrastructure committee from 2012 to 2017, following which he was elected as the council’s first political leader in 2017, taking on the role again after the 2022 election.

The local authority’s chief executive Oliver Reid said: “I’ve been incredibly lucky as a new chief executive to have had a political leader like James, who is an exemplar to others in terms of his depth of understanding of local government issues and in terms of his tenacity in fighting Orkney’s corner in the national arena.

“His influence, experience and dedication are unrivalled — I’ve learnt a great deal from him and will miss his wise support.

“James has put a great deal of effort over the last couple of years into encouraging and supporting fellow elected members in their development — and this should ensure a smooth transition when the council elects a new political leader.”