Flintshire Council's deputy leader 'begs' for talks to save services

Reporter:

Robert Doman

FLINTSHIRE Council’s deputy leader is begging Wrexham Council to bin its “hard-headed stance” and work together to save key services.
 
Cllr Bernie Attridge has implored Wrexham Council leader Cllr Mark Pritchard to sit down and discuss options which could enable the two cash-strapped local authorities retain frontline services in both areas.
 
Flintshire Council faces a £20.8 million Welsh Government funding shortfall in 2015-16, with Wrexham Council eyeing a £15m savings figure in the same period.
 
Cllr Attridge says Wrexham does not need to fear Flintshire’s progressive approach or any concerns over control, as he battles to save the services for people he entered local government politics to protect.
 
“Wrexham won’t solve all our problems and Flintshire won’t solve all theirs, but if Wrexham and Flintshire could sit down together I am sure we could do something to make a massive difference in both areas,” Cllr Attridge said.
“We have an open door in Flintshire, but Wrexham don’t seem to want to take it.
“Wrexham Council leader Mark Pritchard won’t even sit down with us, which I think is a very hard-headed stance that jeopardises frontline services in both areas.
 
“I beg Cllr Pritchard to sit down at the table with us if that’s what it takes. Lets keep politics out of it and concentrate on what we can do for the people in our areas and at least have that discussion.
“But the mindset of Wrexham Council seems to be to carry on regardless. 
“I firmly believe between the two of us we can save money and we could make it work. 
“I think Wrexham Council are fearful of a very progressive council such as Flintshire and of being controlled.”
 
Cllr Pritchard last week hit out at Wrexham MP Ian Lucas after the MP expressed his wish to see Wrexham merge with Flintshire and parts of Denbighshire to create a stronger North East Wales authority.
Cllr Pritchard described Mr Lucas’ comments questioning Wrexham Council’s “capacity to do its job” as “cheap punches”.
 
But while such spats in Wrexham continue, Flintshire's Cllr Attridge revealed talks have been opened with cross-border neighbours Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) with a view to sharing services responsibility.
"Cllr Aaron Shotton, leader of Flintshire Council, has spoken with the leader of CWaC to see if we could share responsibilities for running some services,” Cllr Attridge said. 
 
“Talks are ongoing. But in the meantime both Flintshire and Wrexham face incredibly tough decisions. 
“We cannot continue to subsidise institutions like Clwyd Theatr Cymru at the expense of care homes – but those are the decisions we are facing.
 
“I came into local government to protect services and do the best for people in Flintshire, but it is very frustrating Wrexham won’t sit down to do the same and I don’t think that helps anyone. 
“If not then I fear bad news for both areas and the stability and provision of services.”

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