A HIGH street filled with traders watched and waited this morning for the arrival of the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. But their hopes of sharing questions, concerns, Christmas spirit and even cakes with the man vying to continue his premiership were dashed as the visit was called off at the last moment. 

The Prime Minister was due to arrive in Westhoughton within minutes when it was announced that his visit to the Bolton West constituency was being cancelled.

Protesters, some toting Labour placards, had already taken up their positions in Market Street this morning - beginning to go back and forth with passersby. Debates in the street swirled, everything from opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn to funding for the NHS got a mention.

Whispers began to surface that, in the face of protesters, Mr Johnson would not be showing up at all. Those whispers grew into confirmations from Conservative Party officials that the Prime Minister was being diverted away from the town, citing that "security concerns" were too high for him to step foot on the pavement. 

Mr Johnson was expected to walk the high street with the area's Tory candidate Chris Green. Instead, shopowners who had spent days preparing for the high-profile visit say they were left sorely disappointed, saying protestors 'spoiled the day'.

Kelly Diggle-Hillman was among the business owners who were expecting a visit from the Prime Minister. She had spent two days decking out her Cakes by Design shop to be one of the first stops on Mr Johnson's tour - even baking cakes with his face on them.

The Bolton News: Kelly Diggle-Hillman had prepared for a visit Kelly Diggle-Hillman had prepared for a visit

Mrs Diggle-Hillman said: "We're just disheartened and a bit let down. The protesters have spoiled it for the small businesses of Westhoughton. It would have been so good for the businesses and it's just been ruined by these people who probably aren't even from the area, don't shop here and don't spend here.

"It's sad because of the amount of work that went into the visit. We've sent the cakes to the Prime Minister anyway, I hope he gets them."   

READ MORE: Boris Johns cancels trip to Westhoughton amid 'security concerns'

Across the road in Westhoughton Market, florist Ron Makin of Makin' Memories was hoping to voice his support for the Prime Minister's Brexit policy.

He said: "I was never a Tory voter but that's changed. I voted to leave and I've never wavered on that, I just think the other parties want to stay in for argument's sake.

"I just wanted to come out of Europe and that's it. I voted to come out and I expect my candidates, my MPs, the Prime Minister, to actually take us out."

The Bolton News: Ron Makin with the flowers he wanted to give to the Prime MinisterRon Makin with the flowers he wanted to give to the Prime Minister

It is the second campaign outing that he has cancelled in the past 24 hours, after a speech he was due to make to Tory supporters in Rochester yesterday was called off last minute.

Mr Makin had made a Christmas flower arrangement to gift to Mr Johnson, saying he was looking forward to passing some festive spirit along to the man he is backing at the polls next week.

Mr Makin said: "I just wanted to share a bit of Christmas in Westhoughton with him. I want to have a happy Christmas, not a negative one and today has been too negative. It's frustrating that he's not come, the protesters have not added anything to today."

Elsewhere in the market, lifelong Labour voters were just as keen to have a meeting with the Conservative leader. Hoping to challenge Mr Johnson on austerity cuts which have seen public services slashed was Westhoughton resident Sylvie Foster.

She said: "We had everything in Westhoughton, we used to have our own police station, our own clinics, you name it. Now we have nothing." 

Once the news that the Prime Minister would not be appearing in the town, the market descended into chaos.

READ MORE: Tory candidate hits out at Labour protestors 'who ruined' Boris Johnson visit

Some protesters and Labour supporters gathered outside, the market went into lockdown and a skirmish began. 

It is understood that a woman became trapped between the doors of the market as they closed, with witnesses saying she was being pushed out by people inside the market. 

The police were called to reports of an assault and around six officers attended the scene to calm tensions. 

Market trader Sarah Lichter spoke to The Bolton News about what she saw: "It's got out of control. There was a lady shouting 'Labour, Labour - go home Boris Johnson'. For the safety of the children who were inside the market and the customers, we had to force the doors closed. She would not move.

"We all had to try pushing her out, but then people tried pushing in. It was like a tug of war. People started coming to the windows spitting, throwing stuff. We were threatened and a lot of children have been crying.

"It's upsetting that it's ended like this."

The Bolton News: Police outside Westhoughton MarketPolice outside Westhoughton Market

The Bolton News spoke to a group of protesters with Labour badges who requested to remain anonymous. They stressed that they were at the scene in a peaceful capacity but emphasised that they wanted to show they did not welcome the Prime Minister to Westhoughton.

The group said that Conservative governments have 'decimated the NHS with austerity' and they were there to show their opposition to the Tory leader.

A Labour campaign source said: "We are shocked that a 64 year old nurse and Labour activist has been assaulted today. A report has been filed with the police.

"We hope that all parties will support the democratic process, and the right for people to peacefully protest against the cuts inflicted on our society under a decade of Tory austerity."

Police left that afternoon, saying they were continuing to look into the alleged assault but had not arrested anyone.

The Prime Minister will undoubtedly be appearing once again in the run up to the election. But for today, the only sight people in Westhoughton caught of Boris Johnson was his face on top of a cake.

The Bolton News: A Boris bus even made it to BoltonA Boris bus even made it to Bolton