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Flintshire council leader quits over political divisions caused by ‘hateful and public’ sacking row

The leader of Flintshire County Council has quit his post after becoming embroiled in a “hateful and public” row over the divisive sacking of his deputy.

Aaron Shotton has announced he is stepping down as Labour leading in order to “heal the political divisions that have emerged in recent days” and cited the “intolerable” pressure he has faced.

Last week, Shotton dismissed his number two, Bernie Attridge after accusing him of a “significant breach of confidence” which had led to a break down in relations between the two, leading to a strong backlash from councillors and the local community.

Shotton is also currently under investigation from the Public Services Ombudsman over claims that he had an affair with a female staff member who was later reported to have been dismissed by the council.

Another cabinet member, Carolyn Thomas, warned that “hatred and animosity” threatened to split the Labour Group at the council, and residents in Shotton have gathered since the sacking in protest against Shotton’s decision.

In a statement, the council leader said: “I am grateful for the support that I have received from the vast majority of council colleagues in recent days, following the action that I took with regard to Cllr Attridge.

“However, in the light of increasing and persistent social media attention, and the community reaction to the decision that I had to make, I have considered what is best for the council moving forward.

“I strongly feel that in order to heal the political divisions that have emerged in recent days, it is now necessary to step aside from the role of council leader and cabinet member for finance.

“The continued negative media attention is simply not fair on the loyal and dedicated workforce who deliver the very services the people of our county rely on.”

He added that the increasing pressures has been “intolerable,” and said his resignation will take effect as soon as an interim successor is appointed with an urgent meeting of the council to elect a new leader due to take place next week.

Attridge claimed that his dismissal was a result of him speaking up about Shotton’s alleged affair, though the departing council leader rejected the claims.

Hours before the resignation, Carolyn Thomas had called for calm, stating: “They worked together as an excellent pair and it is dreadful it has come to this hateful, public display of destroying two lives.

“It could cause a split and bring down the council which stops it functioning properly.”


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