NOTE: This content is old - Published: Friday, Mar 29th, 2019.
The former deputy leader of Flintshire Council has hit back over claims he was sacked for an alleged breach of confidence.
Council leader Aaron Shotton released a statement yesterday defending his actions in removing Cllr Bernie Attridge from his post, accusing him of a ‘recent and significant’ case of releasing private information.
However, Cllr Attridge has now rejected the suggestion and said he was disposed for standing up for a council employee who was dismissed because of a supposed affair with the Labour leader.
Cllr Shotton is the subject of an ongoing code of conduct investigation regarding his reported involvement with the married woman, who lost her job in October.
Cllr Attridge, who was also dropped from his role as cabinet member for housing earlier this week, said he felt it was unfair that she had been made to leave.
He said: “I voiced serious concerns to colleagues about the dismissal of a female member of staff following a series of newspaper allegations about the conduct of Aaron Shotton.
“I continue to believe that is is grossly unfair that she lost her job while the leader of the council remains in post.
“I make no apology for speaking up for her, I will continue to do so.”
Cllr Shotton has resisted several calls from opposition leaders to step down from his position while the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales probes his actions.
In response to a public backlash over the decision to sack his number two, the council leader said he had been left with no option in order to protect the local authority.
He said: “Over the years there have been a number of breaches of confidence by the councillor.
“I have shown Cllr Attridge my loyalty over those years and have given him support, and access to advice and the support of others, in an attempt to prevent a recurrence.
“Unfortunately, there has been a recent and significant further breach of confidence.
“The cumulative effect of the councillor’s actions has been an erosion, and now a loss, of trust and confidence.
“Regrettably, I have been placed in a position of having no option but to take this decisive action to protect the council.”
He added that he was ‘grateful’ for Cllr Attridge’s work since becoming deputy in 2012.
The pair were previously close allies, representing the same area of Connah’s Quay on the council.
Both men are also prominent members of Connah’s Quay Town Council.
Following the breakdown in their friendship, a number of community members have rallied to Cllr Attridge’s cause.
They include Cheryl Woodfin from Shotton, who he supported while he was in charge of the housing portfolio in her bid to have her home adapted for her disabled son Jack.
The youngster suffers from Angelman Syndrome and epilepsy which has left him unable to walk or talk.
She said: “Losing a prominent figure from the council who has supported us as a special needs family every step fills me with despair.
“My son has had many issues over the last three years and he has always been there either to show support, a friendly message or stepped in and challenged a decision made.
“Jack had an issue with his wheelchair that needed someone to help him get back to school as quick as possible and he also stepped up then.
“He is a good man, and the only one who has really gone above and beyond for my son who is so vulnerable.”
A public meeting is due to be held in support of Cllr Attridge at the Shotton branch of Wetherspoons on Monday.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).