Labour targets deal with Lib Dems in Flintshire after Tories back independents
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
Labour ‘s hopes of maintaining control of Flintshire Council hinge on a deal being agreed with the Liberal Democrats after the council’s Independent group leader confirmed he had reached an agreement with the two Conservative councillors who were elected last Thursday.
Control of the local authority hangs firmly in the balance following Friday’s local election results, which saw all seven seats in Connah’s Quay switch from Labour to independent.
It left Labour with 31 seats overall in Flintshire and the independents 30, both short of the overall majority required to take power in County Hall, where there were 67 seats up for grabs in total.
The town was previously a stronghold for the party before a bitter row broke out between then Labour council leader Aaron Shotton and his deputy Bernie Attridge in 2019, when the latter was sacked from the council’s ruling cabinet over an alleged breach of confidence.
Mr Attridge, who represents the Connah’s Quay Central ward, later quit the party after almost three decades of being a member and it was under his leadership which the independents made their gains.
While Labour made up ground elsewhere in Flintshire, the election results have left a question mark over who will run the council for the next five years, with the four Liberal Democrat councillors potentially having the final say on who will form an administration.
And current Labour leader Ian Roberts said he is keen to build bridges in Connah’s Quay moving forward.
The Flint Castle representative, who was successfully re-elected on Friday, said: “We’re currently in discussions with various people, including the Liberal Democrats to try and form an administration that we believe can take Flintshire forward.
“We recognise that there are issues that we need to deal with, and we need to listen to the voice of the people as expressed in the Connah’s Quay area.
“It was a difficult election campaign in many ways, but Welsh Labour did particularly well in the Delyn constituency area, which bodes very well for regaining that seat at the next general election.
“I meet the challenge from Connah’s Quay straight on and we need to recognise the issues that have caused the loss of seats there.
“If I should be in any position after this, I would be making representations to Welsh Government particularly about Flintshire’s funding settlement which has to be sorted.”
Labour’s 31 seats represent a reduction of three compared to 2017, but with less positions available on the council on this occasion due to boundary changes.
The number of independents has risen by five since the last local election, while the Conservatives incurred the biggest losses in the county this time round with only two councillors now remaining.
However, Mr Attridge believes support from the Tories could be crucial in helping him to form an administration.
He said: “I didn’t get over the line that I wanted to, but I’m absolutely over the moon with Connah’s Quay.
“Flintshire is a little bit more difficult with the numbers, but I’ve got authority from the independents to try and form an administration.
“At this precise minute I’ll be going with a minority administration. I’ve got the backing of 30 independents, and I’ve got the backing of the two Conservatives.
“The deal breakers are the Liberal Democrats, and they hold the power.”
Talks are still ongoing between the various groups over who will run the council, with a decision expected at its AGM later this month.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.