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Five Labour defectors slam administration and form new party

The five members of the new Flintshire People’s Voice party pictured outside County Hall in Mold (Pic: Flintshire People’s Voice)

A GROUP of Flintshire councillors who made a shock decision to leave the Labour Party have accused the ruling administration of being “stuck in a rut”.

Five Labour politicians crossed the floor to form their own party at last week’s AGM of Flintshire Council.

Penyffordd councillor Alasdair Ibbotson announced he would be quitting after accusing an unnamed Labour cabinet member of misleading members of a committee.

It was also claimed that the views of Labour backbenchers had been ignored after raising concerns on several controversial matters, including the council’s Local Development Plan and the future running of leisure services.

The chair of the local authority’s climate change committee was joined by Cllrs Sam Swash, Dan Rose, Gillian Brockley and Carolyn Preece in leaving the party.

Their decision saw Labour lose a number of key positions, despite hanging onto overall control of the council.

The five members of the new Flintshire People’s Voice (FPV) group have now spoken further about the reasons for their departure, as well their plans for the future.

Cllr Preece, who represents the Buckley Bistre West, has hit out at her former party after slamming the actions of cabinet members.

She said: “When I was first elected in 2022, I thought that the ambition I had to make my own area, and Flintshire as a whole, a better place to live would be shared across the council.

“Unfortunately, trying to get positive change has been a thankless task.

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“It’s really felt that the administration has been stuck in a rut, and every time there’s a suggestion for improving services or saving money, the cabinet’s approach seems to be to say no before even being asked the question.

“This can’t continue. Flintshire People’s Voice councillors will stand by the promises we were elected on, and will press Labour to do the same.”

During last week’s AGM, Cllr Ibbotson cited a disagreement with a cabinet member over the accuracy of information presented to a scrutiny committee as being one of the main causes for his decision to leave Labour.

He said the senior figure had later failed to correct the record on the issue and dismissed calls to resign from their role.

Commenting further on the row, he said: “This took place in a secret section of the meeting of the environment committee in January, relating to the council’s fleet contract, which has been in the news again recently after the provider entered administration.

“Council rules prevent disclosure of discussions relating to contracts from being made public, so frustratingly, residents of Flintshire are prevented from knowing the exact details.

“These contracts involve millions of pounds of public funds. It’s the bare minimum to expect cabinet members to know what’s in them, and to be able to give truthful and accurate responses to basic questions.”

The group said it would be announcing a detailed plan of action setting out its intentions this week.

Members said pushing for the public ownership of buses, blocking speculative housing developments, and boosting local wages would be the new party’s main priorities.

Aston councillor Gillian Brockley said: “FPV have made clear by our actions that we aren’t looking for advancement within the Labour Party, we’re in this to stand up for residents.

“That means always acting how residents would want and expect us to – even when this comes at a personal cost.

“We’ve proven that we’re willing to do that, and invite other councillors who feel the same way to join us.”

Flintshire’s Labour council leader Ian Roberts said he did not wish to comment on the issues raised by the new party after being approached by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

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