BOLTON Council has appointed its new chief executive.

Tony Oakman will take up his next post at the town hall early next year, subject to approval by councillors at Wednesday night’s full council meeting.

Mr Oakman, who lives in Appley Bridge, Wigan, will be making the step up from his current role as deputy chief executive of Dudley Council.

He said: “As an adopted Northerner who has lived in the North West for the last 30 years, it is a great privilege and honour to be given the opportunity to work in Bolton. I am passionate about the opportunity to work on behalf of local people and committed to delivering regeneration in the borough and improving opportunities for residents.”

Current chief executive Margaret Asquith will serve as Mr Oakman’s deputy during a handover period when he arrives in Bolton, before she retires at the end of March.

The London-born father-of-three came out on top after a rigorous three-day assessment process at the town hall last week, which involved four other candidates.

He will be subject to a six-month probation period, something that was not part of former chief executive Paul Najsarek’s contract.

Mr Najsarek left with a £90,000 settlement after quitting his £160,000-a-year job after just five months in 2015.

Cllr Cliff Morris, leader of Bolton Council, said: “Tony has a passion for working in public service and more than thirty years’ experience in local government. He will be a great asset to the council at a time when we have to make significant savings, transform services and maintain community outcomes despite reducing resources.

“He shares our values and understands the challenges that face us and I have no doubt he will be an outstanding chief executive.”

During his career in local government, Mr Oakman has previously served as the executive director of people services at Stoke-on-Trent City Council and also worked at the Mersey Care NHS Trust and Sefton Council.

Among the key challenges facing him in his new role will be delivering on the council’s £1 billion masterplan to transform Bolton town centre, and managing the development of sites such as Logistics North and the Horwich Loco Works.

Ms Asquith said: “I think he has got a very rich and deep background and a lot of experience in local government. It will be really important that I take the time to introduce him to the council’s partners and make sure that he is introduced properly to the work we are doing.

“The time we have during the handover will be usefully spent.

“We have always said that we have two key priorities here — regeneration and continuing to deliver services — and he has the right experience for them. He will bring new ideas and a different approach to move things forward in Bolton.

“We are on the brink of a lot of really exciting things happening here and he is the right person to come in and deliver them.”

During the interview process last week, Mr Oakman met with councillors from the four political parties represented on the council, as well as town hall officers.

Bolton Conservative leader, Cllr David Greenhalgh, said: “I look forward to working with Tony.

“He certainly came across as enthusiastic and committed to the role, with a depth of knowledge across services, and not afraid to challenge. He lives locally, which is clearly a plus, and has good experience with partnership working. The process was so much more thorough than the last time we appointed, which is to be welcomed, with all councillors included, as well as feedback from officers and partners.

“He will inherit some challenging issues in Bolton, and I wish him all the very best.”