Total fall out over merged Troms and Finnmark
The meeting on a merger between Troms and Finnmark ended abruptly on Friday when the delegation from Troms left the negotiations in protest.
When the Finnmark delegation was not willing to place administrative management of the county municipality administration in one county and the county governor in the other, negotiator Willy Ørnebakk from Troms chose to leave the meeting together with his delegation, writes iFinnmark.
– We have presented a clear statement that we must look at what other counties have done and place the Administration of the merged county municipality to one county and the Governor’s office to the other. Finnmark is not willing to compromise at all. Finnmark wants both situated here in Vadsø. That can not be beneficial for the merged region. This is completely unacceptable, seen from our point of view, Ørnebakk tells the newspaper.
He says the delegation from Troms has been clear that it is quite unreasonable to demand that both administrations should be led from one part of the region, pointing at both settlement patterns and long distances.
County councilor Ragnhild Vassvik was surprised when the negotiators from the neighbouring county left, pointing out that the delegation from Troms has issued a clear ultimatum to place the Administration in Tromsø. Finnmark believes Troms ought to have the political and that Vadsø should have the administrative leadership.
– We have offered them the political seats, county councils and management in three main committees, in exchange for the administrative headquarters to be placed in Finnmark, says Vassvik.
The article continues below the graphics.
Facts about the merged mega region
Aftenposten has gathered six important pieces of information regarding the merged mega region.
Becomes as large as Belgium and the Netherlands put together
Geographically, it becomes a giant. Troms, the only county in Norway that borders both Sweden and Finland, today covers a land area of almost 26,000 square kilometers, according to the county.
Finmark, which is the largest in size and smallest in population, covers a land area of 48, 637 square kilometers.
Together, the merged region will thus cover 74, 600 square kilometers.
It is as large as the land area of Belgium (30.5 km2) and the Netherlands (41.5 km2) if they were merged. By comparison, Denmark covers just over 42,000 square kilometers.
As many residents as the neighbouring county
There will be ample space for the nearly 238,000 inhabitants of the merged region as per today. There are currently 43 different municipalities affected.
In Troms are the largest cities are Tromsø, Harstad and Finnsnes. In Finmark Alta, Hammerfest and Vadsø are the largest.
Although it is very large geographically, the region will have about as many inhabitants as neighbouring Nordland.
Where should the regional capital be?
Tromsø, by far the largest city in the region with 72,000 inhabitants, vies to become the regional center after the merger.
Helge Andre Njåstad (Progress Party), leader of the municipal committee in Parliament, says the region decides how to organize the work and allocate public employment themselves.
It is nevertheless assumed that Tromsø will become the main regional center.
– There are also Governmentntal measures that ensure public employment in Vadsø, says Njåstad.
Vadsø is presently County Capital for Finnmark and has many public workplaces.
In the last year there has been great turmoil in the local community over lost public jobs, among other things in NRK, which has moved its district headquarter to Alta.
Why two counties instead of one?
There was a discussion wether to merge all three northernmost counties or not.
According to Ingjerd Schou (Convervatives), a agreement has been reached between the four burgeois parties after an initiative by the parliamentary representatives from the three northernmost counties.
These, together with the Leaders of the Municipal Committee of the four parties, have agreed on this solution.
The Conservatives only parliamentary representative in Finnmark, Laila Davidsen, says she is very pleased with the solution.
– This was the best solution. I have long been in favour of a merger between Troms and Finnmark, she says.
Does Finnmark have anything to fear from the south?
The merger of Troms and Finnmark does not affect the action zone for Finnmark and Northern Troms.
On the question as to whether she fears loss of public workplaces in Finnmark she states:
– No. There will be guidelines from the parliament that ensure the distribution of jobs and that special attention is paid to Vadsø.
Øyvind Korsberg (Progress Party) tells the newspaper Nordlys that this is a good solution for Troms and Finnmark.
– It assumes that we are aware of the so-called Tromsø effect, he says.
Asking about the definition of the Tromsø effect, he says:
– Tromsø is by far the largest city, and one must keep that in mind, so that there is no vacuum cleaning effect with everything placed in Tromsø. Further development of Finnmark and less populous areas, he says.
Finnmark retain rights to natural resources
The most controversial issue in Finnmark has been whether the so-called Finnmark Act will be extended to apply to the entire area of the merged region.
That is not going to happen. The Finnmark Act will apply to the same geographical area as today.
The law introduced in 2005 gave people in Finnmark the rights to natural resources on land and watercourses in their own county.
95 per cent of the areal in Finnmark is transferred to local ownership through the Finnmark property management company.
© NTB Scanpix / Aftenposten / Norway Today