LINDA Thomas will be the next leader of Bolton Council.

The current deputy leader was chosen by fellow Labour members at a meeting tonight to succeed Cliff Morris after he steps down on December 31.

The Halliwell councillor will be formally ratified as leader at a special meeting of the council in the new year and assume her new duties on January 8.

She said: “I am really honoured that my fellow Labour Councillors have put their faith in me to lead Bolton at this transformational time.

“We end this year with real confidence in our local economy, with business investing in jobs and infrastructure, as well as our own pioneering plans to kickstart development on derelict and brownfield sites.

“But that said, we must never forget the unprecedented austerity that we are battling through, which has hit local government services particularly hard.

“The year ahead shows no sign of pressures on our services easing, the underfunding of social care fails to meet the needs of our ageing residents suffering chronic conditions. Our calls for fairer funding for Children’s Services and the expansion of our local schools have so far been ignored. These are just some of the services that affect every life in our community.

“These are the issues I have committed my political life to and as Leader of my Group, and the Council, I do intend to use the platform to continue to be a fierce champion of our people and our borough.

“And at this time of year, I want to pay a special tribute to our emergency services, carers and council staff who will be working throughout the festive season. They do a sterling job on all our behalf and deserve all our thanks.”

Cllr Thomas has served as deputy council leader since 2006 and is the Local Government Association's national spokesman for community wellbeing.