Merge to Form Largest Municipality in Iceland

east iceland consolidation

Four East Iceland municipalities will be consolidated to form the largest municipality in the country. Residents of Fljótsdalshérað, Borgarfjarðarhreppur, Seyðisfjarðarhreppur, and Djúpavogshreppur voted on Saturday to consolidate the four municipalities under a single local government. The new municipality will be the largest in Iceland geographically, with an area over 11,000 square kilometres (4,250 square miles) and will contain around 5,000 residents.

Voter turnout was relatively high in all four municipalities. Djúpavogshreppur had the highest voter turnout at 78%, followed by Borgarfjarðarhreppur at 71.6%, Seyðisfjarðarkaupstaður at 70.7% and Fljótsdalshérað at 53.6%. Though Fljótsdalshérað showed the lowest voter turnout, residents there were the most supportive of consolidation, with 92.9% voting for merging the four municipalities. Voters were supportive of the merger overall, with 86.7% voting for in Seyðisfjarðarkaupstaður, 64.7% in Borgarfjarðarhreppur, and 63.7% in Djúpavogshreppur.

The municipalities plan to hold elections next spring for the new local council. One of the council’s first tasks will be to choose a name for the new municipality. A press release on Seyðisfjarðarkaupstaður’s website says it is likely residents will be given the chance to suggest names and vote from a shortlist.

While the council will have 11 representatives who are responsible for the entire muncipality, each of the four regions will also retain a council of three members with more localised authority. The concept is built on experimental provisions on governance in 2011 legislation concerning local government. This will be the first time the provision is applied.

Icy Accidents Call for Extra Emergency Staff

emergency department hospital

Nearly 30 people have sought emergency care this morning due to ice-related accidents. Around one third of the patients had landed in traffic accents while the rest had slipped and fallen on icy streets. The National Hospital’s emergency department has called in extra staff to avoid lengthening wait times due to the weather.

“This is the first slippery ice day this winter. There are broken bones and bruises and scrapes and cuts,” stated Jón Magnós Kristjánsson, head doctor of the National Hospital’s emergency department in an interview for mbl.is. He says the department’s load is otherwise normal, with no flu outbreak or other seasonal issue.

Jón encouraged individuals to seek assistance at local health clinics for minor injuries in order to avoid long wait times.

New WOW air to Transport Cargo Before Passengers

Ballarin introduces WOW asset purchase.

Preparations are underway to get the new WOW air off the ground within a few weeks, RÚV reports. The airline’s first flights will transport cargo between Keflavík and Washington. The new WOW air was originally scheduled to begin flights this October, but delayed its start of operations by two months.

Michelle Ballarin, the airline’s founder, arrived in Iceland this weekend to oversee the company’s preparations. Gunnar Steinn Pálsson, Ballarin’s spokesperson, says there are several reasons that preparations have taken longer than expected, but the airline hopes to begin flying within a few weeks.

Gunnar Steinn stated the airline will initially focus on cargo transport rather than passenger transport. Operations with begin with two planes transporting fish and other goods, and will expand based on demand. The airline aims to eventually offer regular passenger flights to mainland Europe.