A group of Labour politicians have accepted their leader’s decision to dismiss his deputy despite a series of counterclaims.
An urgent meeting of Labour councillors in Flintshire was held last night amid the ongoing fallout from Cllr Aaron Shotton’s decision to sack Cllr Bernie Attridge.
During the gathering in Mold, both men were given the opportunity to state their version of events before the group announced its conclusion to support the reasons put forward by Cllr Shotton.
It followed claims Cllr Attridge was responsible for a ‘significant’ breach of confidence.
Following the meeting, a statement has been issued on behalf of the Labour group outlining its position.
A spokesman said: “There was an urgent meeting of Labour county councillors yesterday evening at which Cllr Bernie Attridge and the leader, Cllr Aaron Shotton addressed the group.
“The outcome was that the group accepted the reasons given by the leader, Cllr Aaron Shotton, for the actions he had undertaken.”
During the meeting, Cllr Attridge denied he had leaked private information and suggested the leader was using his departure to distract from an ongoing Ombudsman’s investigation into his own conduct following an alleged affair.
However, Cllr Shotton has dismissed the suggestion that his expulsion from the ruling administration was because he stood up for the female council employee involved, who is said to have lost her job.
The local authority has confirmed separately that the employment case was not one of the reasons put forward for dismissing the former cabinet member for housing.
In Cllr Attridge’s speech, a copy of which has been seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, he criticised his former friend and said he felt he had been treated ‘very unfairly’.
He said: “I have not been given the opportunity to defend myself against the allegations made by the leader of Flintshire County Council.
“Confidential council matters are often discussed amongst fellow councillors.
“This is common practice amongst all councillors, it is how we seek to resolve issues and gain consensus amongst our peers.
“Like others I have shared my concerns issues with other Flintshire County Council Labour cabinet members in confidence.
“I absolutely dispute the allegation that I have breached confidentiality protocols.”
He went on to detail his concerns about the fact Cllr Shotton had kept his role as leader, while the woman he was allegedly involved with was removed from her position.
However, the majority of Labour members said they were satisfied with the leader’s grounds for dismissing his number two.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).