Innovation Exchange

Empowering Communities Pilot Project


Key activities

Benefits and impacts


Further Information

Orkney Islands Council is currently mid-way through a project to trial new structure for localising the delivery of services through providing Community Councils greater responsibility for the management and delivery of Council run services in their area.  Local input could provide a new way to support and develop communities across Orkney, developing services which are more responsive to local demand, while also creating a more efficient means of delivery for the Council in addition to providing local employment opportunities.

Theme: Partnership and Collaboration

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In partnership with HIE Orkney, the Council established a centrally based project liaison officer within Democratic Services, OIC, in January 2015.  In addition the Council funded an Island Link Officer post in each of 2 pilot islands. A community office has been established in the former Library, Papay Schoolhouse and the Fish Mart, Stronsay.  These offices provide a base for the Link Officer, offering some of the services provided by the main Customer Services section of OIC and this also provides an office space for officers visiting the island.  The Link Officer assists to co-ordinate local activities sourcing local contractors to undertake work on behalf of the Council as further opportunities arise.

The key outcomes of the project are to develop and assess options which will:


  • create efficiencies in terms of resource and/or cost;

  • increase employment opportunities in island communities;

  • up-skill the island based workforce;

  • increase sustainability through building capacity to manage and deliver local services and improve access to services; and

  • enable locally based community groups to work together to maximise the potential benefits to island residents.

The Community Councils, Elected Members and Council Officials have embraced this new initiative but changing the organisational culture or long established working practises and/or procedures within the Council takes time.   Council services are often part of 3 year contracts so this also introduces barriers and delays.  Introducing efficiencies through new working practises requires an initial investment of resources to facilitate changes.

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:


Gavin Barr

Executive Director

Orkney Islands Council

01856 873535




Maureen Spence

Democratic Services Manager

Orkney Islands Council

01856 873535

Case study added to site: June 2016

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