The former leader of Caerphilly council has told colleagues to consider his resignation “temporary”, and believes he will be found innocent of any accusations.
It has since been revealed that Cllr Poole held shares in a company that benefited from £38.5 million of public money.
In an internal email seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, councillor Poole has told Labour councillors to consider his decision to step down as leader “a temporary one.”
But a source within the Labour Party said the view expressed in an email “is not the view of the group.”
In the email, councillor Poole said: “I honestly believe that I will be found to be innocent of any of the accusations that have been made against me.
“So in the immediate future, I hope members will reflect on how I have brought the group together and worked in everyone’s best interest and will continue to do so in the future.
“Therefore in the short time that this investigation is likely to take, I trust members will consider my decision to withdraw from the position of leader as a temporary one.”
Cllr Poole told members to be “mindful that any immediate change could be both damaging and even more challenging”.
“I trust that members will not castigate or condemn me before the truth is known, and will consider my position following the outcome of the report by the Ombudsman,” councillor Poole adds.
The council’s Labour group was due to meet tonight, Monday September 30, to discuss the leadership.
Cllr Barbara Jones has been appointed interim leader, with the process to select and appoint a new leader due to take place over the coming weeks.
Councillor Poole also said he was originally “angry and upset” when he presented his resignation.
But he said it was the “honourable course of action to take”, while his actions were investigated.
As the leader of the council, Cllr Poole was a member of the cabinet of the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) City Deal – an economic development partnership of ten local authorities including Caerphilly.
In September 2017, the CCR cabinet agreed to buy the former LG Semiconductor site at Newport’s Imperial Park from the Welsh Government for £38.5m and lease the site back to Cardiff-based tech firm IQE. The aim of the deal is to create the world’s first compound semiconductor ‘cluster’, attracting other firms developing the technology and creating thousands of jobs.
Cllr Poole became leader of Caerphilly Council in May 2017 and was a member of the CCR cabinet when the decision to invest the money was made.
According to Cllr Poole’s declaration of interests, published on Caerphilly Council’s website, he was a shareholder of IQE. Cllr Poole reportedly bought the shares in October or November last year.
Councillor Poole has been contacted for comment.