JEREMY Corbyn has vowed that Labour will "regain control" of Bolton Council ahead of a huge rally in the town.  

The opposition leader pledged that the party will "learn lessons" from the town as he explored its centre this morning, revealing Labour's plan to regenerate the high street.

Visiting the town hall, Market Place and even paying a visit to the Fred Dibnah statue, Mr Corbyn made Bolton's high street his backdrop to explain how empty high streets would be transformed by his party.

Under Mr Corbyn's new policy, councils would be able to reopen abandoned shops left empty for more than 12 months, ATM charges would be banned and bank branch and Post Office closures would be curtailed.

The opposition leader toured Market Place shops, praising the independent businesses that have seen success and learning more about spaces that have long been empty. But for a town that recently saw Labour lose control of the council after four decades, doubts loom over whether voters would be able to place their trust in the party again.

The Bolton News asked if the retail policy would be enough to convince local voters to support Labour again, Mr Corbyn said: "It's one of many policies we're putting forward, we also have a very big offering on social care, education, and of course on housing. Talking to Linda Thomas, who led the council, talking about the progress that was made and the development of Market Place — that is what can happen when you've got an interventionist Labour council.

"I'm looking forward to Labour regaining control of Bolton so we can carry on with the regeneration of this town centre. The improvements all came about because of the vision of Labour."

In recent months, Bolton has lost several of its big name high street stores. Just last week Market Place said goodbye to Starbucks, other shops that have shut their doors include Toys R Us, Costa Coffee and Lush. Many town centre retail units are currently sitting vacant and boarded up, among them the former BHS store in Victoria Square and parts of the former Beales department store.

The town has also seen several of its independent shops close their doors, such as Glamour Bridal and Overlord Militaria, but Mr Corbyn believes that small businesses and independent retailers could save flagging high streets.

READ MORE: Labour's plan to relaunch high street

He said: "Some have gone and some are staying, some independents are taking over. Personally, I think independently-run, small business often are better within the community than some of the big brands. They relate better to the community and people relate better to them.

"I'm sorry if anyone leaves but if we've got the powers of local authorities, which is exactly what we're proposing, to say that if a place is deliberately kept empty then the local authority should be able to take it over and find a tenant for it, and make sure it's back in use. There's nothing more depressing than boarded up shops."

However, Bolton Council has unveiled a £1.2bn masterplan to stem the tide of closures and regenerate the town centre, a scheme already well underway.

When asked why he chose to launch his policy in a town that already has a plan to rescue its shops, Mr Corbyn said: "I wanted to come to Bolton. I wanted to see how this plan was developing, I wanted to see how an interventionist council can make a very big difference and learn the lessons from that.

"We do have town centres around the country where there are a plethora of boarded up shops which is depressing for everybody. I think there's some interesting lessons here, talking to the town centre manager I think the balance here is good — a combination of charities, independents and some big name brands brings people in. The food festival brings even more people in. It's about how we manage our town centres, there's lessons to be learned from everyone."

Mr Corbyn said he feels that small business owners will take the risk to fill empty lots: "There are people that are prepared to take a punt on it, take a chance and try and do something. It's also about making sure that there is a diversity of outlets. It doesn't have to all be coffee bars, it doesn't have to all be clothes shops. The trick of the management of a town centre is to make sure that you have got a real diversity of places. There's no point in going to a town centre where you can't buy bread and you can only buy clothes, ditto the other way around.

"You have to have good management and that's why we're proposing to empower local authorities to intervene in town centres. Shopping habits have changed, a lot of people buy online so some businesses are closing their high street and putting stuff in warehouses which is then delivered, but there is also a thirst for good quality stuff that is locally made and locally produced."

Responding to Mr Corbyn’s proposals, the deputy leader of Bolton Council and executive member for development and regeneration, Councillor Martyn Cox, lambasted the Labour leader, claiming he has “spent his whole political life in opposition to businesses”.

He added: “Corbyn’s plan to support the high street is both woeful in its content and its understanding of the millions of people who work hard to make their businesses a success.

“Rather than proposing solutions to problems of retailers, a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn poses an existential threat to their very existence.”

Labour's Bolton West candidate, Julie Hilling said: "Bolton has lost, cumulatively, a billion pounds since 2010, the Labour council still managed to come up with some exciting plans. We just hope the Tories see the plans through. We're trying to keep pressure on."

The labour leader will be at the University of Bolton Stadium tonight for a Labour rally.