UKIP leader Henry Bolton has pledged to make his party ‘fit to fight’ at the next local elections.

The former police officer made the journey to the town that shares his name yesterday to speak to grassroots members about how the Eurosceptic party moves forward after a disappointing General Election performance this year.

Mr Bolton was elected UKIP leader following the resignation of Paul Nuttall, who saw the party poll less than two per cent of the vote last June.

Ahead of meeting local activists at the Macron Stadium, he said: “I want to get to know the issues and the people we have got working here.

“I am also trying to find areas in which we have had success in building support so that we can start to roll that out across the country.

“In the past, UKIP has had success without doing that sort of thing. I want to professionalise the whole system having looked at the likes of our councillors here in Bolton.

“Growing our vote share and the number of seats we have got is what is important.

“Our strength isn’t in fighting Labour or the Conservatives, it can be different in every area depending on what the issues are. Our appeal is that we aren’t tied into the same classical political party constraints.

“We were created around the problem of leaving the EU.

“Our approach going forward now can be focused on finding what the particular problems are in an area and working out the best solutions to them. That is our strength at local government level.”

He has followed in the footsteps of former party leaders Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall by visiting Bolton, which played host to UKIP’s spring conference this year and has been one of the areas where the party has enjoyed the most success.

There are currently four UKIP councillors in Bolton and the party will be defending one of its seats for the first time next May.

Mr Bolton, who met with Bolton UKIP leader Cllr Sean Hornby at Bolton Town Hall, added: “Brexit is just the first step in taking control of our destiny. Therefore the purpose of UKIP is to ensure that post-Brexit we are actually able to build that confidence and optimism that the country needs.

“My message is that the job is not done. I want to reorganise the party to make it fit to fight at the local elections and also for the longer term.”

Cllr Hornby added: “Instead of starting from the bottom and working up, UKIP did it the other way around.

“When the MEPs are gone, we will be left with assembly members and local councillors.

“We are fighting 300 of our seats in May and it is important that we engage with the public and show that we are listening, like we have in Little Lever and Darcy Lever.”