COUNCIL bosses have said there will be “no U-turn” on plans to privatise the meals on wheels service – but the decision is still up for debate next week.

Bolton Council was due to axe its in-house community meals service earlier this year, but the decision was called in for further scrutiny by the Labour group and delayed further when the coronavirus crisis took hold.

The decision was due to be discussed, alongside the local authority’s plans to scrap its offer of free parking in Bolton town centre on weekends and bank holidays, at a council meeting in March – but the meeting was cancelled.

The two proposals are back on the agenda for next week’s full council meeting – the first since the lockdown started – which will be held via video conference.

The Conservatives say a final decision on the future of the meals on wheels service will be deferred until after the pandemic, hopefully around September.

But Labour leader Nick Peel is calling on the Tories to scrap the proposal now.

He said: “The Conservative cabinet made a decision to privatise meals on wheels.

“The only reason that this decision has not been implemented is because the Labour Group insisted that further scrutiny takes place.

“Lockdown then prevented the full scrutiny process from taking place.

“You would have had to have been asleep for the last few months to think that going ahead with meals on wheel privatisation is a good idea.

“They may be talking about deferring the decision for now, but this is not good enough and we are therefore calling on the Tories to make a U-turn and formally withdraw the proposals.”

Last month, the council announced that free parking would continue all day at weekends and bank holidays in the Octagon, Topp Way and Deane Road multi-storey car parks in a bid to boost business in the town centre post-lockdown.

Drivers will also get up to two hours of free parking on weekdays at Ashburner Street car park and all three NCP multi-storey car parks.

Free weekday and Saturday parking in on-street pay and display bays is set to start in August, after machines have been reconfigured.

This free parking offer is expected to be in place until November.

But the proposal to scrap free parking altogether is still on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting – and like the meals on wheels proposals, it is in Labour’s gift to withdraw it or the Conservatives to vote with their rivals.

Executive cabinet member for adult social care Andy Morgan said he is looking forward to an “open” and “transparent” debate on the proposals.

He said: “Nobody has or is doing a U-turn on the community meals proposals.

“As stated prior to lockdown, this saving option, as identified by the previous Labour administration, will be revisited as and when appropriate to do so post-lockdown.”

The Conservative group will meet on Monday to discuss how they will vote.

The full council meeting takes place on Wednesday, July 15 at 7pm and will be broadcast online.

A link to watch the meeting will be available on the council’s website at