A senior politician has pledged to restore trust between Flintshire Council and members of the public if he is elected as leader.
Labour councillors have rallied behind Ian Roberts, cabinet member for education, as their nomination following the departure of Aaron Shotton last week.
He quit his post in the wake of a fierce row about his decision to sack deputy leader Bernie Attridge for alleged breaches of confidence.
The move sparked divisions among the community, with two protests held in Cllr Attridge’s support in a matter of days.
Cllr Roberts, a former teacher who represents the Flint Castle ward on the local authority, has now set out his intention to fix relations following a turbulent period for the administration.
Speaking after receiving the unanimous backing of his party, he said: “I feel extremely honoured to be in this position going forward as the Labour nomination.
“It’s through tragic circumstances that we find ourselves here, but I promise if I am elected as leader, I will do my utmost to serve the people who have put us in this position.
“My first aim would be to refocus the council on its services.
“The council should be about providing services for 160,000 people.
“I also think we need to restore relations both within the group and across the council chamber.
“Finally, we need to improve trust between the council and the public, trust across the chamber and trust between members and officers.”
Cllr Roberts has represented Flint since the late 1980s, originally as a town councillor, before being elected to Delyn Borough Council in 1991.
He then became part of the newly-formed Flintshire County Council in 1995 and has successfully held his seat since.
His move to become leader of the authority is expected to be ratified at a special full council meeting tomorrow.
Ahead of the meeting, Cllr Roberts has been praised by cabinet colleague Chris Bithell, who said he believed he was the right man for the job.
He said: “I’ve known Ian probably for about 40 years since he was a young man.
“He’s Flint born and raised, he’s got a vast experience and is a well-established councillor.
“He’s someone we felt we could put our faith and our trust and confidence in as our new leader.”
As Labour rules as a minority administration, holding 34 out of 70 council seats in Flintshire, it is likely the party will need to rely on a handful of other votes to seal the deal.
While opposition groups are not believed to be planning to make their own bid for power during proceedings at County Hall in Mold, such a move has not been ruled out for next month’s AGM.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).