THE Conservatives have been in charge of Bolton Council since May. Local Democracy Reporter JOSEPH TIMAN looks at what the group has done in its first 100 days.

TORY leaders say by the end of the year they will complete most of the 25-point plan they agreed with other parties to enable them to take control of the town hall.

The new Conservative administration has ticked off around a fifth of its pledges in the agreement so far, including a £10m investment in road repairs, a freeze on councillors’ pay and putting opposition parties in charge of scrutiny committees.

They say that work on at least another eight points is under way, including a £1.5m investment to make the borough “cleaner and greener” which is set to be waved through next week.

Of the commitments the Conservatives made as part of the agreement, the ruling group has only been tested in a handful of areas such as delivery of frontline services and protection of the green belt.

Under the new administration, a leading barrister who was set to represent the council at a government inquiry into 1,036 homes and a Ryder Cup golf course at Hulton Park was axed.

But the Tories also said they would scrap meals on wheels to make way for private companies to offer their services instead after the previous administration identified savings targets in the department.

Since the Conservatives took control of the town hall, the council has also seen through several commitments made by the Labour group when they were in charge.

Steering groups have been set up for local councillors and businesses to decide how to spend a £16m pot to regenerate town centres in Farnworth, Westhoughton, Horwich and Little Lever.

Bids for government cash to regenerate high streets, which were submitted under the previous administration, have progressed to the next stage since the Tories have been in charge.

READ MORE: ‘It’s felt like turning an ocean liner’: new council leader on first 100 days

Lib Dem leader Roger Hayes said the Tories have made an “encouraging” start but there is still a lot to do.

He said: “It is still relatively early days, but I think the Conservative administration has made a good start in bringing more openness and transparency to the decision making process which was one of the main concerns about the previous administration.

“They are also, so far, keeping their promise to prioritise frontline services which support the most vulnerable in our town. We will watch their record on this closely. Their minority position should ensure they keep on this path.”

Cllr Hayes signed the 25-point agreement alongside leaders of the Conservatives, UKIP and the two indepedent hyper-local groups.

In return, the signatories and their members voted to appoint Tory leader David Greenhalgh to run the council with a minority administration.

The Bolton News:

But Labour have repeatedly described the new administration as a coalition, insisting that they are in fact the only opposition party.

UKIP leader Sean Hornby dismissed these accusations, praising the pace at which change has taken place.

He said: “The first 100 days have been quite interesting seeing politics in Bolton as you have never seen it before. There are accusations that it’s a coalition, this is nothing of the sort, it was the chance for a new administration to do things differently with fresh ideas.”

Cllr Paul Sanders said there is a real sense of optimism among his fellow Farnworth and Kearsley First councillors.

He said: “Our party believes that funding is now beginning to be more fairly distributed across the borough, and more decisions, for example the £1.2m for road improvements in Farnworth and Kearsley, are now being taken locally by the councillors that represent our two towns.”

“We appear to be seeing genuine efforts by the ruling group to promote open and transparent decision making and allay our concerns on specific issues such as Kearsley Children’s Centre and we feel we are making inroads into other issues in our towns.

The hyper-local group’s leader said the next thing on their to-do list is to look at ‘agile-working’ so that residents may have improved access to council services, such as welfare rights officers and universal credit advisors across the borough.

He added: “All of our councillors agree that our towns, and this borough, are well placed to move forward and we will continue to lobby the ruling group to ensure that Farnworth and Kearsley receive their fair-share of any funding and services within the borough.”

The Bolton News:

Cllr Marie Brady said that the 25-point plan has had “immediate benefits” for Horwich and Blackrod, but there are “significant challenges” yet to come.

The Horwich and Blackrod First Independents leader referred to the additional highways capital funding which has been allocated to improve the worst roads and footpaths.

However, she raised concerns that Horwich Leisure Centre remains unfinished and that there is still no clarity on delivery of the “long-awaited and promised health centre”.

She said: “HBFI would agree Horwich and Blackrod and the borough of Bolton are seeing some positive outcomes but we will continue to hold the ruling group to task, to ensure Horwich and Blackrod receive a fair share of funding and services.”

Updates on the health centre are expected in the coming weeks.

The Labour leader has said that her group is the only opposition party at Bolton Council.

Cllr Linda Thomas said that conventions were broken for the first time in Bolton when her group, the largest in the council chambers, was side-lined.

She said: “The coalition was launched under a 25-point plan, signed by all of the coalition partners. Fifteen of those points are either a reaffirmation of work that Labour had already started or work that we had completed. Apart from Highways, there has been silence on the other 10 points in the first 100 days.”

READ MORE: The 25-point agreement which party leaders signed to put the Tories in power

The former council leader, who was ousted from power at the May election, said the Tories have achieved “little of substance” so far.

Cllr Thomas said the Conservatives have “largely” accepted Labour’s legacy.

She said: “Labour is the only opposition party in Bolton. We will continue to keep a watchful eye on the coalition, and will challenge where appropriate any decision that they make that we feel is damaging for the people of this borough.”