THE leader of Flintshire Council has claimed he had no choice but to sack his deputy after accusing him of a ‘breach of confidence’.

Cllr Aaron Shotton has revealed his reasons for firing Labour colleague Cllr Bernie Attridge as his second in command, as well as cabinet member for housing.

Cllr Attridge broke the news of his removal from the administration on social media last night and said he had been left ‘shocked and saddened’.

It was speculated that the departure was caused by a rift between the two former allies, whose friendship is understood to have become strained in recent months.

Since June last year, Cllr Shotton has been the subject of an ongoing code of conduct investigation into an alleged affair with a female staff member, who was later reported to have been dismissed by the local authority.

There has been a strong backlash from the community against the decision to dispose Cllr Attridge, including in both men’s hometown of Connah’s Quay, with many claiming the council leader should have been the one to go.

However, Cllr Shotton has now defended his actions by stating that he had lost ‘trust and confidence’ in him.

He said: “Over the years there have been a number of breaches of confidence by the councillor.

“I have shown Cllr Attridge my loyalty over those years and have given him support, and access to advice and the support of others, in an attempt to prevent a recurrence.

“Unfortunately, there has been a recent and significant further breach of confidence.

“The cumulative effect of the councillor’s actions has been an erosion, and now a loss, of trust and confidence.

“Regrettably, I have been placed in a position of having no option but to take this decisive action to protect the council.”

He add that he was ‘grateful’ Cllr Attridge’s work since becoming deputy in 2012..

In his statement on Twitter yesterday, Cllr Attridge took a swipe at the council leader and made reference to the ongoing inquiry by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

He said of his sacking: “I am shocked and saddened to have been dismissed from the cabinet of Flintshire Council.

“This was entirely the decision of Aaron Shotton, who is himself mired in an Ombudsman’s inquiry into his conduct.

“There’s no such inquiry into my behaviour.

“My many years as a cabinet member have always been focused on the needs of local people and I have always put them first, especially improving the housing stock available to vulnerable and hard-working people.

He added: “I will take time to reflect on what right for the people of Flintshire from my position as a diligent local councillor and deputy leader of the Labour group on the council.”

Meanwhile, the former deputy’s supporters have voiced their anger at the move by Cllr Shotton, who has resisted several calls to step aside since the Ombudsman began looking into claims against him They are planning to hold a meeting at Wetherspoon’s in the town of Shotton on Monday (DEL APRIL 1 2019) at 11am to discuss their next steps.

Cllr Attridge has also gained backing from an unlikely source in the leader of the Conservative group on Flintshire Council.

Cllr Clive Carver said he felt his opponent had been treated unfairly and accused the council leader of acting like Lord Alan Sugar on The Apprentice.

He said: “Forgetting the party politics, he (Cllr Attridge) seems to be doing a good job and I’ve always believed he’s a good ward councillor.

“If you’ve fallen out that much then do it properly, but instead he (Cllr Shotton) called a meeting and Alan Sugar style sacked him.

“It’s petty in some ways and it’s very vindictive and wrong.”

He added: “The opposition group leaders believe, as they’ve always believed, that he should’ve stepped down as soon as he was referred to the Ombudsman.”