BOLTON’S Labour councillors will be asked to publicly state whether they agree with a decision to award Asons solicitors £300,000.

A motion, put forward by Conservative leader Cllr David Greenhalgh will ask for a named vote on whether members present at a meeting of the full council next Wednesday are in favour of the council handing the law firm the grant to help with its move to Newspaper House in Churchgate.

The decision, which was taken in September and signed off at a meeting this month, has caused anger and concern.

Cllr Greenhalgh’s motion will state: “This council disagrees and disapproves with the decision made by the leader of this council, made under Emergency Powers, to award a grant of £300,000 to Asons Solicitors towards refurbishment and occupation of their offices at 40 Churchgate, and agrees to issue a public statement to the residents of Bolton stating thus.”

He will then call for a named vote — which will mean each elected member present in the town hall will have to state whether they are in favour or against his request.

Explaining his motion, the Tory leader said: “We simply want to know if this is a decision that has been supported by the whole of the Labour group, we want to know if he is being backed up by his own councillors.”

Cllr Greenhalgh’s party colleague Bob Allen has gone one stage further in a letter printed in today’s Bolton News and directly called on Council leader Cliff Morris to resign.

The Heaton and Lostock Cllr writes: “Councillor Morris has completely lost the trust of the public and surely his position as leader of the council is now untenable. I call on Councillor Morris to do the honourable thing and resign.”

The Tory group have also raised questions about the current state of Asons finances.

The firm’s latest published accounts — for the year ending May 31 2015 — indicate that in that financial year the firm made a loss of £892,681.

The accounts also indicate that the firm was the subject of a claim by HMRC which, if successful, could result in an amount payable of £300,000.

Westhoughton North and Chew Moor Cllr Martyn Cox, who runs a business himself, said: “We can also see from the accounts that in October the company’s auditors resigned. If you add that to a company that made nearly £1 million in losses in the previous financial year and then the £300,000 HMRC issue — it doesn’t look very good.

“There is enough evidence there to suggest that it is not a good idea to hand them £300,000 of taxpayers money.”

The Bolton News has received no evidence linking the £300,000 referenced in relation to HMRC tax issues and the same figure that was handed over by the council for building development costs.

Both the council and Asons have maintained that the grant issued by the authority was strictly to pay for the development costs associated with the firm’s move from Bark Street to Newspaper House.

Council leader Cliff Morris has moved to reassure the public regarding the awarding of the grant by ordering an independent audit of the decision that was taken.

While neither the council or Asons have issued further statements on the issue since last week, The Bolton News understands that both are preparing responses, which may coincide with the council meeting at the town hall next Wednesday.