The new leader of the council was confirmed after a somewhat surreal meeting at the town hall last night, Tuesday.

Nick Peel is to lead for at least the next 12 months after the Labour Group became the largest group in the elections.

Cllr Peel is to replace Martyn Cox, the old leader of the council, who was appointed around a year and a half ago after the death of David Greenhalgh.

At a meeting at the town hall, a motion was proposed for "Cllr Peel to be appointed leader of the council until the annual meeting of the council in May 2024 or until such time as the council removes him from office". The motion was opened to debate, but not one person spoke for or against it.

The Bolton News: Conservative leader Cllr Martyn Cox

Given the Labour Group is the largest group with 26 councillors, but without a majority, it was in need of support from other parties in the vote.

And it came from the councillors for Horwich and Blackrod, who voted to abstain, and the councillors for One Kearsley, who voted to approve.

The Conservative Group, the Liberal Democrats, Farnworth and Kearsley and independent Derek Bullock all opposed.

After the meeting, which lasted a little less than eight minutes, Cllr Peel said: "As the largest group we were the frontrunner to form an administration.

"This is possible because of the maturity of a couple of other parties, Horwich and Blackrod and One Kearsley, so we could get on with the business of running the council. I'm grateful they've put Bolton Borough first and politics second."

Asked if he could count on their continued support, Cllr Peel said: "We're distinctly different parties with different agendas. We've more in common than we do with the Lib Dems or Farnworth and Kearsley but this is a one-off.

"My understanding in my discussions with the leaders of these parties is they feel they have been given raw deals in terms of promises for Horwich's town centre and Kearsley's community facilities that have not been fulfilled. 

"We're committed to righting those wrongs and no promises have been made to those parties that isn't within the ethos and thinking of the Labour Party. 

"If we see unfairness in any part of our borough we try to address it."

The Bolton News: Labour has celebrated sweeping gains

In terms of priorities, Cllr Peel said one is an increase in transparency to the point where his administration is "the most open in Bolton Council's history".

He mentioned action on climate change and regeneration of the town centre.

He said: "We're not saying we've got all the answers to things. We've got a particular programme, a particular manifesto, but we rely on advice and we won't be afraid of asking for the advice. 

"That's our priority. I won't be afraid of having advisors around me even if I don't like what they're saying."

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.