TOWN councillors have backed a plan from IT firm Eventura to move its headquarters from Bolton to Westhoughton.

Members of Westhoughton Town Council voted in favour of approving the company's application to convert the Cross Guns pub in Bolton Road into a three-storey office building.

Cllr Christopher Peacock, for Westhoughton North and Chew Moor, said the plan would create local jobs and was a “fantastic opportunity” for the town.

Cllr Jack Speight, an independent, opposed the proposals because he said they looked like an "open prison" and were not in keeping with the rest of the area.

But he was the only member to vote against the plans, which will now be decided by Bolton Council planning officers.

Cllr Peacock said: “This is an international company looking to relocate to Westhoughton from Bolton.

“They are going to work very closely with our high school and bring more jobs to our town.

“They are looking to build an iconic building, which will fit into the street scene.

“This is a fantastic opportunity and one we would be very daft to miss.”

Members voiced concerns at the presence of perimeter fencing around the site, but Cllr Peacock highlighted the “sensitive information” the firm stores and said adequate security is a necessity for them.

Technology provider Eventura currently has premises at St George’s Square near Bolton town centre. Cllr Speight said: “I don’t like this application — the building looks like an open prison. To me it will give the wrong impression of our community.”

The proposed building will contain a large reception area, offices, a conference room, two demonstration rooms, meeting rooms, a specialised cloud server room, a canteen and a multi-gym for the staff along with shower and changing facilities.

The Cross Guns is one of four Westhoughton pubs to have closed in the past two years, along with The Commercial, The Red Lion and The Windmill.

Cllr David Chadwick said: “The closure of any pub in the town is sad but this is a replacement of what has become essentially a dilapidated building.

“I look forward to them moving into Westhoughton and taking part in events in the town.”

Chris Houghton, managing director of Eventura, said Westhoughton saw off competition from Blackburn and Chorley to be the company’s new base.

He said: “Westhoughton is a great town, which will hopefully offer us a balance between a place to work hard and some nice parks to walk in at lunch time.”