A SENIOR Labour councillor branded the borough’s Tory group “The Nasty Party” after a furious row broke out over education funding.

The heated scenes came as a full meeting of Bolton Council debated a motion from Cllr Stephen Pickup, calling for pressure to be brought on the government to increase funding as schools deal with “the largest budget cuts since the 1950s”.

The Labour motion was rebutted by Conservative, Cllr Christine Wild who took issue with Cllr Pickup’s suggestion that the chamber should “condemn the pressure put on schools” by Tory spending cuts.

Cllr Wild disputed that the Conservative government was failing to fund schools fairly – telling the meeting Bolton schools had received £20m over the last year to alleviate the problem of a lack of school spaces.

But it was her claim that the Bolton Gateway Programme – which settles refugees in the borough - placed a “ great strain” on school places, which appeared to provoke an angry response from Cllr Debbie Newall.

Cllr Newall, the council’s executive cabinet member for adults and health, launched an extraordinary attack on the opposition benches.

She said: “Two minutes into the debate and they’re talking about the Gateway Programme. The mask slips and we see The Nasty Party – not that it ever really went away.

“As far as we are concerned every child who lives in Bolton is a Bolton child. We say ‘every child counts’. We don’t care about the origin of that child, we care about the education and welfare of that child.”

Conservative, Cllr Andy Morgan had told the chamber there were now 36 more outstanding or good schools in Bolton than in 2010, and called for pupils’ achievements to be celebrated.

But Cllr Newall dismissed Cllr Andy Morgan’s defence of the government’s education policies as “wholly within the realms of fantasy politics”.

However the Conservatives’ Mudasir Dean said it was a “tunnel vision” motion put forward by Cllr Pickup.

He added: “It just looks at funding being produced and not other areas where that side of the chamber have mismanaged our town on this particular subject.”

Tory leader David Greenhalgh took a more conciliatory approach, but said his party could not support a motion that was so scathing towards his party.

He said: “I don’t think there’s a single person in this chamber that doesn’t want the best for our children and adequate funding for our schools.”

He added: “We would be broadly happy to support any motion about working together in the best possible way for our children in hard times.

“But you go a step further, using language that is political, which makes it very difficult for us.”

The motion was carried after all members in attendance voted on it.