FINAL interviews are being held today in Bolton Council’s search for a new chief executive.

Town hall bosses have put a shortlist of five candidates through an ‘intensive’ selection process this week and will give the potential chief executives a final grilling today.

It is expected that the key appointment will be made next week, subject to the approval of councillors at a full council meeting on Wednesday.

Current chief executive Margaret Asquith announced earlier this year that she will be retiring next March.

She took over in November, 2015 when previous council boss Paul Najsarek quit five months into the job, for which he received a £90,000 pay-off.

During the interview process this week, the five candidates — who have not been named — have met with councillors from all four of the political parties represented on the council, as well as town hall officers.

A panel made up of four Labour executive cabinet members — councillors, Cliff Morris, Linda Thomas, Ebrahim Adia, and Nick Peel — and two Conservatives, councillors, David Greenhalgh and Hilary Fairclough, will make the final decision on the appointment.

A council spokesman said: “As part of the selection process we have been working with a recruitment specialist and the Local Government Association to consider the applications received. From this we formed a shortlist who were invited to take part in a rigorous assessment process.

“Over a number of days this week the applicants have been through an intensive selection process, involving council members from all parties and local stakeholders. Final interviews will take place on Friday and we are hoping to appoint thereafter, subject to Full Council approval next week.”

Cllr Greenhalgh said: “We are delighted that the selection process has been far more thorough this time.

“There has been a thorough discussion that has been challenging for the candidates and every single councillor has had the opportunity to see all five of them. I am confident that we will be in a position to make an appointment.”