Flintshire Council's leader dismisses coalition uncertainty claims

Reporter:

Matt Jones and Andrew Boyd

FLINTSHIRE Council leader Arnold Woolley insists the ruling group has a secure future.


Cllr Woolley was responding to suggestions of divisions in the County Hall coalition and a possible breakaway by some members.


His comments were made after he was re-elected as leader at Tuesday’s annual meeting, despite some coalition members voting against him remaining in position.


Uncertainty surrounds the future composition of the coalition comprising Independents, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives after New Independents leader Cllr Patrick Heesom revealed his nine members are considering their position within the coalition.


The matter is due to be discussed today but Cllr Woolley does not believe the coalition would be badly hit if the New Independents left.


“We are perfectly sound or solid with or without this particular group,” he said.
“There has been talk of them leaving the coalition since the group was formed in October.”


Cllr Woolley said he believed events at Tuesday’s meeting were part of a “normal day’s business” in politics and dismissed talk of coalition infighting.


But Cllr Heesom said: “The coalition’s credibility has gone. There seems to be all sorts of problems with it and its leadership and we will be discussing our position.
“The meeting on Tuesday was meant to be a civic occasion but there was a lot of attempts at political point-scoring going on. It was totally inappropriate.”


Cllr Heesom believes the New Independents are entitled to more representation on committees than they are being granted. Cllr Woolley says every effort is taken to provide political balance.


Another critic is Cllr Bernie Attridge, deputy leader of the opposition Labour group, who is calling for governmental intervention to unite the council.


Describing the situation as “embarrassing”, he said: “Why is there so much infighting within Flintshire?


“I think it’s time for the local government minister to intervene like they did at Anglesey Council.


“Enough is enough. It is playground politics at its worst.”


Cllr Fred Gillmore, leader of the Independents and a coalition member, does not believe there was infighting at the meeting. “It was a typical council meeting,“ he said.


“When you are in a coalition there are always going to be some difficulties, as you can see with the Government.


“We are all determined to keep making this work.”


The coalition comprises 19 non-aligned Alliance members alongside nine each from the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives and New Independents.
Labour has 22 seats.

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