COUNCIL workers in Bolton were subjected to 32 physical assaults in the last year while trying to do their jobs, shock new figures reveal.

Union bosses say morale among staff is already low because of cuts to jobs and services, but that workers are also now dealing with increasing abuse from members of the public.

There was a similar number of assaults registered on local authority employees in 2018 but the numbers have risen in the last four years, with just 28 incidents reported annually in both 2017 and 2016. Figures before 2016 are not available.

Martin Challender, communications officer for Bolton UNISON - which represents council staff - said assaults on workers were “completely unacceptable”.

“I know people are frustrated about services but the last thing they should be doing is taking their frustration out on those people who are just trying to provide for their own family and do their jobs,” he said.

“Morale among council staff is already low because of cutbacks to services and jobs and increasing demand for services.

“There’s no excuse for people being abusive or threatening to members of council staff. Council workers pay council tax as well and a lot of them are relatively low-paid.

“Local government is suffering from years of low investment which has made it very difficult for council staff.”

The figures, uncovered during a Freedom of Information request, relate to staff in every department of the council, including parking wardens, bin men, highways engineers and those working in council buildings.

Last week, the Bolton News reported on an increase in “verbal abuse and threats of physical violence” on staff working at tips in the borough which Mr Challender said was similarly worrying.

A spokesman for Bolton Council said the authority had plans in place to keep staff safe.

He said: “Bolton Council does not tolerate rude or aggressive behaviour, threats of violence or violence towards staff, and employees who have been at the receiving end of this behaviour receive full support.

“Our policies make sure that there are procedures in place to reduce the risk to staff from work-related violence, threats or abuse."