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Council / Differing views between Shetland and Orkney councillors on valuation board coronation holiday

King Charles III and Lord Lieutenant Bobby Hunter in Lerwick in 2021. Photo: SIC

THERE was a difference in opinion between Shetland and Orkney councillors this week over the topic of granting a day off on the Monday after King Charles’ coronation.

The matter was brought up at a meeting of the Orkney and Shetland Valuation Joint Board on Thursday.

The board, which features councillors from Orkney and Shetland, was asked to decide whether staff working for the organisation should get an additional day of fixed annual leave on Monday 8 May.

In its day to day work, the organisation – which currently has 15 permanent staff – looks after the valuation roll and the council tax valuation lists for the two council areas, with offices both in Lerwick and Kirkwall. 

It is also responsible for the maintenance of the register of electors.

The same coronation question had previously gone to both local authorities on whether their council staff should get a public holiday on 8 May – two days after the actual coronation.

Shetland Islands Council said no, citing cost and a lost school day, with the decision receiving national media attention and also disappointment from local unions.

However, Orkney Islands Council’s policy and resources committee recommended that the local authority should make 8 May a public holiday for its staff.

The UK Government has announced an additional bank holiday on 8 May, although it is up to employers to decide whether they wish to grant an extra day off.

The two opposing councils’ decisions were reflected at the valuation joint board meeting in Orkney.

A recommendation was put to members to approve giving valuation joint board staff an additional day off, but Shetland councillor Allison Duncan thought otherwise.

“The coronation is on Saturday of the previous week, and if the staff want to go to see it in person, there is no reason why they cannot go to London and see it being held, and give notice of holidays in advance,” he said.

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“If not, they can see it on television on the Saturday. I don’t see it’s necessary to give an additional day’s holiday.”

His amendment to make 8 May business as usual was seconded by SIC depute leader Gary Robinson.

But a motion to approve the recommendations and give a day off was put forward by Orkney councillor Kristopher Leask.

It went down to a vote, with Shetland councillors Liz Peterson and Arwed Wenger joining Duncan and Robinson’s cause.

But Orkney’s Dr Jean Stevenson, Dr Stephen Clackson, Lindsay Hall and John Ross Scott joined Kristopher Leask’s motion.

Board convener Stephen Leask, from Shetland Islands Council, also supported the motion – meaning the vote went 6-4 in favour of a day off.

Speaking after the meeting Leask said he sided with the motion as it would follow most other authorities and would be beneficial for morale, “especially as the officials, officers and all staff in this line of work have had an extremely busy time”.

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