The former deputy leader of Flintshire Council has left the Labour Party after almost three decades following a dispute which he says has damaged his health.
Bernie Attridge said he would be departing from party politics because of the impact of a row which erupted in March when he was sacked from the authority’s ruling cabinet by former ally Aaron Shotton.
The decision to remove him from his posts as deputy leader and cabinet member for housing was made because of an alleged breach of confidence – a claim which he contested.
It sparked a backlash in the community and led to Cllr Shotton, who is the subject of an ongoing conduct investigation, stepping down due to ‘intolerable pressure’.
Cllr Attridge said the period since had been one of the most difficult in his life, adding that his position within Labour had become ‘untenable’.
However, the outspoken politician pledged he would continue to represent Connah’s Quay as an independent.
He said: “It is with great sadness that today I have resigned from the Labour Party after nearly 30 years as a member.
“Due to recent events, I find my position in the Labour group has become untenable.
“This has affected me greatly, both mentally and physically.
“I have dedicated most of my life to public service and have always tried to do the best I can.
“I am humbled by the support I have received from my family, friends and constituents through the most difficult and darkest days of my life.
“I will continue to serve the people of Connahs Quay Central ward and Flintshire to the best of my ability as an independent councillor.”
Cllr Attridge is now listed on the council’s website as being a member of the New Independents Group led by Cllr Patrick Heesom.
It means that Labour, which rules as a minority administration, has 33 of the 70 seats on the council.
The political leadership of the authority for the upcoming year will be decided at next week’s AGM.
It was hoped the appointment of Flint’s Ian Roberts as Cllr Shotton’s replacement last month would heal some of the rifts within the Labour group.
Cllr Roberts has spoken of his sadness after news of Cllr Attridge’s decision broke.
He said: “I was very disappointed to hear the news that Cllr Attridge feels he can no longer remain within the Labour Group.
“He’s made a number of positive contributions over the years for which we are grateful.”
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).