Posted: Wed 21st Feb 2024

MP demands Flintshire Council Leader resignation amid funding row

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Feb 21st, 2024

Calls have been made for the leader of Flintshire Council to resign in a row over how much funding the local authority receives.

Delyn MP Rob Roberts has urged Labour’s Ian Roberts to step down after accusing him of not doing enough to protect residents in Flintshire from budget cuts.

County councillors yesterday (Tuesday, 20 February) agreed to millions of pounds worth of cuts and a nine per cent council tax increase to address a financial blackhole of £14.5m faced by the council in 2024/25.

The decision came after the authority was given the third-lowest funding settlement out of the 22 Welsh local authorities.

Rob Roberts has urged the Labour-run Welsh Government to address what he described as the “chronic underfunding” of the council.

The independent politician also hit out at the political leader of Flintshire Council after he chose not to co-sign a letter sent by the MP and 26 Flintshire councillors to Welsh local government minister Rebecca Evans, calling for an uplift to the authority’s funding.

Ian Roberts defended himself during a debate on the council’s budget at County Hall in Mold, saying he had already written his own letter to the minister advocating for more money.

However, the area’s MP accused local Labour politicians of being ignorant to the “struggles” faced by residents.

Rob Roberts said: “The Flintshire Council Labour group’s failure to prioritise the needs of the community is a betrayal of public trust and a gross dereliction of duty.

“Their complacency in the face of detrimental cuts to essential services indicates a lack of genuine concern for the well-being of residents, prioritising a desire not to “rock the boat” with their own party ahead of those who elected them to serve.

“Considering these egregious failures, there is no place for such leadership. Therefore, I am calling for the immediate resignations of the whole group but particularly leader Ian Roberts, deputy leader Christine Jones and cabinet member for finance Paul Johnson.

“Their resignation is not just a matter of formality but a necessary step to demonstrate accountability and a genuine commitment to the welfare of the people they were elected to serve. No other options remain.”

[Delyn MP Rob Roberts]

The MP hit out after Labour’s Richard Lloyd was the only councillor from his party who agreed to co-sign his letter calling for a “fairer distribution of resources” from the devolved government.

The majority of those who backed his calls were independents, along with the leaders of the Liberal Democrat and Conservative groups on the authority.

During yesterday’s meeting, council leader Ian Roberts said he had sent his own letter to Ms Evans and was constantly lobbying Labour ministers for more funding.

He also criticised the Welsh Government’s decision to provide more money to support struggling companies like Cardiff Airport and rail operator Transport for Wales while councils are struggling financially.

Cllr Roberts said: “I constantly strive to put Flintshire’s view forward to ministers and to other leaders on the executive board. Whilst I remain as council leader, I will continue to do so.

“I have to say I have no problems with many of the issues that have been raised about Welsh Government’s priorities, with constant support for Cardiff International Airport and support for Transport for Wales whose patronage has not returned to where it was pre-pandemic.

“The provision of local services for the people of Flintshire is the all-important thing.

“Do I like proposing what I’ve proposed? No, I don’t. And remember all of us in this chamber will pay this increase as well.”

 

When contacted by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cllr Ian Roberts said he did not wish to comment further on the MP’s request.

However, he added: “I will continue to work across the chamber in Flintshire County Council and with the Welsh Local Government Association to secure what I believe is a fair funding settlement for Flintshire.”

By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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