A COUNCIL leader yesterday defiantly announced he would not be quitting his position.

Pressure had been mounting in recent days on Arnold Woolley, leader of Flintshire Council, to step down from the role after it was revealed nine councillors were forming a breakaway New Independents group.

Speculation that Councillor Woolley would quit intensified after he revealed he would be making a statement on his future at yesterday morning’s executive committee meeting but at the close of the meeting he confirmed he would be continuing as leader.

He said: “It is business as usual. I never intended to weaken. Any opposition would have to state its case. This county, I like to think, is steadily improving under the leadership team it has got.

“Improvement is not a case for lack of confidence, nor is it for walking away. I am not an individual for walking away from anything.

“I have been astounded by the number of people out there in the community who bothered to get in touch with me.

“If there is anything that strengthens my resolve, not that my resolve was weakened, it is that obviously I am doing something right in the community – being here is for the community, not for me.”

At yesterday afternoon’s special full council meeting the creation of the New Independents was noted. It is being led by Cllr Patrick Heesom and other members are ex-Liberal Democrat group members Carolyn Cattermoul and Tim Newhouse with former Independent Aligned group members Emlyn Cooke, Raymond Hughes, Rita Johnson, David McFarlane, Peter Pemberton and Carolyn Thomas.

But the new group continues to form part of the coalition which contains a mixture of 18 Alliance (Independent Non-Alligned) members and nine Liberal Democrat members.

The special meeting saw councillors vote in favour of recommendations on the new composition of the council, with the New Independents to be represented on all 11 committees.

Cllr Aaron Shotton, leader of the opposition Labour group, praised Cllr Woolley for “holding off a potential coup d’etat”.

The 70-member council’s new composition is: Labour 22, Alliance 18, Lib Dems 10, Conservatives 9, New Independents 9, Plaid Cymru 1 and Saltney Cllr Klaus Armstrong-Braun.