SEVEN new area deans - including one for Bolton - have been licensed by the Church of England.

Rev Simon Cook, who has been installed for Bolton, is a former assistant archdeacon for the area and a former area dean for Bury.

He will be supported by a lay chair, Keith Lewis, with the pair both being licensed by Bishop of Manchester David Walker at the city’s cathedral last weekend.

A diocese spokesman said: “Working closely with the lay chairs and other ordained and lay leaders in each deanery, this new cohort of area deans will lead the delivery of the diocese’s transformation programme at local level.”

The diocese has reduced the number of area deans from 20 to seven. The dean for Bury and Rossendale is Red Canon Dr Rachel Mann and the lay chair is Kathryn Pollard.

Five other deans and lay chairs will represent various other areas of Greater Manchester.

The spokesman added: “They will be responsible for carefully targeted interventions on the ground to achieve the diocese’s ambitious targets for increased church attendance, particularly in the most deprived areas; greater opportunities for people to explore their faith, especially children and young people and their families; and for the Church to be able to lead the way in every local community, supporting those who are deprived and excluded.”

The role will be a full-time commitment and is said to have followed ‘an extensive consultation exercise’.