THE future of Flintshire County Council’s leader will not be known until early next week.
It was announced last night that Arnold Woolley, the under-pressure coalition leader, would reveal his intentions at the council’s executive meeting next Tuesday morning ahead of the full council meeting later the same day.
The development came in the wake of revelations that Cllr Woolley was said to be considering his future after members of the coalition joined two former Liberal Democrats to create a rival New Independents faction.
Cllr Woolley was not available for comment yesterday, but a Flintshire Council spokesman confirmed he will be making an announcement on his future next week.
He said: “Following recent media reports, Flintshire County Council leader Cllr Arnold Woolley has said he will be making a statement about his intentions at the end of the scheduled meeting of the council’s executive on Tuesday, October 19.”
Insiders have revealed a vote of confidence could be taken on Cllr Woolley at the
full meeting if he opts not to resign.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the New Independents group, led by former council leader Patrick Heesom, issued a mission statement on what the movement’s plans are.
He said: “We believe a new ethos is required. As a group we wish to serve as a critical friend and move overdue issues forward, ensuring full transparency and dissemination of information.
“As elected representatives, we wish to bring about a more inclusive say on policy development and service delivery, with decision-making bodies such as the regional partnership boards having a fuller elected member representation.”
Cllr Nigel Steele-Mortimer, Conservative leader on the council, dismissed claims his party was ready to back Cllr Heesom in the council chamber.
He said: “No decision has so far been made by Conservative members on the situation. This is not something we have ever discussed and we have not pledged our support to Cllr Heesom.”
Cllr Aaron Shotton, the council’s opposition Labour leader, called for strong leadership from whoever next leads the council. He said: “This is a matter for the coalition to address. It does not directly involve the Labour group.
“It is clear there are some difficult challenges ahead and there will need to be strong leadership.”
The changes being made are set to lead to a shake-up of the council membership, with seven members of the Independent Non-Alligned group and two former Liberal Democrats forming the New Independents Group.
Cllr Woolley had led a group of 25 Independent and Non Alligned members before the departure of seven members to the new group.
The composition of the 70-member ‘hung’ council now is: Labour 22, Independent Non-Alligned 18, Liberal Democrats 10, Conservatives 9, New Independents 9, Plaid Cymru 1, plus Saltney councillor Klaus Armstrong-Braun.