LINDA Thomas was formally appointed as the new leader of Bolton Council tonight.

She succeeds Cllr Cliff Morris, who stepped down at the turn of the year after 11 years at the helm.

Councillors voted to confirm her appointment at an extraordinary meeting of the council this evening, though the Conservative group voted against it.

Cllr Thomas said: “One hundred years since women’s suffrage, it’s a huge privilege to take on this role and lead Bolton Council.

“We’re three female leaders in Greater Manchester now — it has completely changed — and I just think three females might just change the direction of discussion.

“ I think sometimes we bring a different focus. A lot of my focus, in particularly, is on services that we deliver, and the big services we deliver are about vulnerable children and adults.

“I’m quite an inclusive person, so I hope to bring on board a lot of talent in the borough, everyone should have stake in Bolton."

Conservative leader Cllr David Greenhalgh said his group could not support the appointment of a Labour leader in 'pretty unprecedented times', following votes of no confidence in Cllr Morris from Labour members and unions last year.

Tory colleague Cllr John Walsh questioned the need for an 'bemusing and unnecessary' extraordinary meeting of the council.

Cllr Morris labelled the Tories' actions 'churlish', while Cllr Thomas called for the parties to work together in future.

UKIP councillors and Cllr Carole Swarbrick, who was suspended from the Liberal Democrat group last year, voted to support Cllr Thomas' appointment.