Posted: Fri 1st Apr 2022

Rival politicians trade blows in last meeting ahead of local election

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Apr 1st, 2022

Rival politicians in Flintshire have traded blows during their last meeting before May’s local election. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

A row broke out at a Flintshire Council planning meeting after an independent candidate claimed a controversial application wouldn’t have been discussed during a politically sensitive period had it been in a Labour-controlled area. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The comments were made by Bernie Attridge in a debate on proposals to turn an industrial unit in Northop Country Park into an office and warehouse. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The scheme attracted 31 objections from a local residents association in a ward which has been represented by independent councillor Marion Bateman. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Mr Attridge quit Labour in 2019 after he was sacked as deputy council leader by former ally Aaron Shotton and is now spearheading a campaign to get as many independent community leaders elected as possible in the county. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

His remarks sparked an angry reaction from his ex-colleagues in Labour, who have led the local authority since 2012, with one describing them as “outrageous”. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Mr Attridge later withdrew his comments, but speaking earlier in Wednesday’s (March 30, 2022) meeting, he said: “I know for a fact if a planning application was coming to planning committee a month before an election in a Labour ward, it wouldn’t see the light of day. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“I’ve been there and been a cabinet member so let’s have some fair play here for all people. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Just on those grounds I believe this application shouldn’t be before us, because it wouldn’t be before us if the local member was a Labour councillor.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The claims were immediately rebuffed and slammed as “total nonsense” by Chris Bithell, who has served on the ruling administration as cabinet member for planning. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

He said: “Those comments should be withdrawn by Cllr Attridge. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“It’s outrageous and most of the applications on this agenda today are in ward represented by Labour councillors and they’ve been dealt with in the normal manner. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“It’s a total nonsense really, and is just a reflection of his new particular standpoint.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Mike Peers, leader of the Independent Alliance group, highlighted that a consultation on the council’s local development plan was recently delayed due to the impending election. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

He said the decision had “set a precedent” and suggested the application should have been treated the same. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Labour’s Richard Lloyd, who was chairing the committee, said he was concerned the meeting had got out of hand. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Meanwhile, his colleague Gladys Healey said she felt Labour members were being “ridiculed”. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

She said: “I’m just sitting here, and I’m appalled that politics is coming into a planning committee. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“I’m ashamed of it and there’s some comments which I found pretty offensive when Labour councillors who are sitting on planning are being ridiculed more or less.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Mr Attridge initially rejected a request to withdraw his comments after claiming they were factual. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

However, after the proposals were deferred by a majority vote, he later changed his mind. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

He said: “After consideration I’d like to withdraw my comments that I made that may have offended any member on the planning committee.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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


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