Power could be set to change hands in Bolton town hall after this year’s all out council elections.

Following a hard-fought contest, Labour have now emerged as the biggest party with 26 seats, displacing the Conservatives who have won just 16.

With sweeping gains having been made across the borough, Labour leader Cllr Nick Peel said he believed his party would now be able to take control due to a combination of local and national factors driving voters.

He said: “Some of the results tonight have exceeded my expectations I have to say, the Labour Party has done phenomenally well in Bolton tonight against the Conservatives, the Conservative vote has collapsed in some of their key seats.

The Bolton News: Labour leader Cllr Nick PeelLabour leader Cllr Nick Peel (Image: Henry Lisowski)

“We could have done better against the Independents and we’ve not quite got our message across.”

He added: “I would ask people to have a look at our manifesto, we’ve got a very bold and radical manifesto about increasing democracy, increasing resident participation in the way that the council operates.”

This was echoed by Cllr Peel’s party colleague, Cllr Akhtar Zaman who was one of three Labour candidates to win in the new Queens Park and Central Ward.

He said: “People are really fed up with what the central government is doing and with government at local level towing that line and going along with it.”

Labour won its position as the largest party in key target wards such as Rumworth and Hulton, while Cllr Rabiya Jiva topped the poll after a particularly hard-fought campaign in Halliwell.

The Bolton News: Labour's Cllr Rabiya Jiva topped the poll in HalliwellLabour's Cllr Rabiya Jiva topped the poll in Halliwell (Image: Newsquest)

She said: "I would like to thank Halliwell for putting its trust in me in this very turbulent time.

"We are a community, it is hope not hate in this ward of Halliwell and we will build a better future."

Another new face on Bolton Council will be former Oldham Council leader Cllr Sean Fielding who won as Labour’s candidate in Breightmet.

The Bolton News: One Kearsley's Debbie Newall is one of several smaller party candidates to emerge victoriousOne Kearsley's Debbie Newall is one of several smaller party candidates to emerge victorious (Image: Henry Lisowski)

The night also belonged to Bolton’s various independent parties, with One Kearsley winning all three seats in its home ward, while the Horwich and Blackrod First Independents won six seats, making them the joint third largest party with the Liberal Democrats.

Farnworth and Kearsley First came next with two councillors, Paul Sanders and the returning Maureen Flitcroft who had lost her seat last time.

One of the few smaller parties to lose out was Sean Hornby’s Little Lever and Darcy Lever First, which lost its only representative.

Derek Bullock of Hulton appeared on the ballot as a Conservative but will sit as an independent, having been expelled from his party over allegations surrounding "racist Facebook posts."

Speaking before the results, Conservative MP for Bolton West Chris Green cautioned that the number of independent candidates could throw up “strange” results.

He said: He said: "The biggest thing is the tension.

"All outs are the worst elections to have to begin with.

The Bolton News: Conservative leader Cllr Martyn CoxConservative leader Cllr Martyn Cox (Image: Henry Lisowski)

"I wouldn't say having lots of independent candidates makes it worse, but it certainly makes things more unpredictable."

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Conservative leader Cllr Martyn Cox won his own seat in Heaton, Lostock and Chew Moor, topping the poll with 2,112 votes, making him one of three winning Conservative candidates in the ward.

But it is unclear how he can go on leading the council after tonight’s result.

Cllr Cox said: "I want to thank Sue Johnson and her team who have conducted such a fabulous count. 

"I would like to thank all the people that participated and the candidates who put themselves forward.

"We've had more candidates than ever this time and we don't see that much."