PRESSURE is continuing to mount on council bosses over revelations that they awarded a £300,000 grant to Asons solicitors.

Questions continue to be asked about the nature of the decision, which was taken using the Emergency Powers Procedure in a bid to assist the company with its move to the Newspaper House building in Churchgate.

The Bolton News understands all three opposition parties are preparing questions and motions to heap pressure on leader Cliff Morris at a council meeting at the end of the month — with UKIP chief Sean Hornby calling for residents to protest outside the town hall before the meeting goes ahead.

The Bolton News has continued to put questions to the council and to Asons regarding the grant.

We have enquired as to the timing of the grant, asking why it was agreed on September 20 when Asons had already moved into its refurbished new offices.

Council correspondence seen by The Bolton News asserted that the money must only be spent on the redevelopment of Newspaper House and we have asked how town hall bosses will ensure this agreement is kept to.

Council chiefs said they would not be adding to a statement released by leader Cliff Morris earlier this week and Asons are yet to say anything further on the matter.

More people have voiced their anger at the decision to award the grant — including business bosses and union leaders.

PJ Thompson is managing director at Bolton Industrial Doors in Westhoughton.

He has written directly to the council on the subject, expressing his ‘serious concerns’ about the award and said the use of Emergency Powers has ‘circumnavigated’ the normal due diligence private companies are subjected to when receiving financial support from Bolton Council.

He added: “I started Bolton Industrial Doors in 1983. I have never asked or received any grants or financial assistance from Bolton Council. We did receive a regional development grant in the early 1990’s and to gain this we had to endure a rigorous process of due diligence, providing detailed business and personal financial information.

“A strict quota of job creation also had to be adhered to with proof that jobs created were still in place after the first, second and third years before staged repayments were released.”

Mr Thompson has also called for a ‘full and thorough public investigation’ into the decision.

Trade Unions in the town have responded to news of of the Asons grant with “dismay and disbelief”.

Bernadette Gallagher, branch secretary of Bolton Unison said: “Over successive years we have seen drastic cuts which have had a dramatic impact across the town.

“Recently we have seen a review of the use of Children’s centres across the borough with drastic cuts planned to the services provided.

“We are now facing yet another round of cuts which includes proposals to scrap school crossing patrols, increase the cost of school meals and care services.

“We can only view the announcement of this grant with dismay and disbelief. It comes at a time when people on all sides are asking the council to use its reserves to help prevent cuts in order to protect services and jobs”.

Martin McMulkin, secretary of Bolton Trades Council added: “More than ever we need to have accountability and scrutiny about the use of public funds.”

“There is no doubt that jobs and job security helps the local economy and the town as a whole. If this money can be used to secure jobs at Asons, why not use the money to secure jobs with Bolton Council?”

The next council meeting, on Wednesday November 30, will undoubtedly be a tricky one for council leader Cliff Morris who is bound to be quizzed from all angles on the Asons grant decision.

UKIP leader and Little Lever and Darcy Lever Councillor Sean Hornby is now calling on residents to take part in a mass peaceful protest outside the town hall ahead of the meeting.

He said: “This Council is fast becoming a dictatorship and it has to change and change fast.

“I am therefore calling for as many people as possible that disagree with the decision made by the Council Leader to award Asons £300k to peacefully demonstrate outside the Town Hall on Wednesday 30th November from 5pm until the Council meeting commences.

“I would urge people to share this on social media and lets show our disgust in the decision that took place and the process carried out.”