Two hyperlocal councillors have quit their party to join Bolton Council’s ruling group amid a turbulent week.

Cllr Debbie Newall and Cllr Melanie Livesey, formerly of One Kearsley, have announced they are joining Labour.

Coming straight after the sudden resignation of One Kearsley leader Paul Heslop, this effectively signals the end of the hyperlocal party and comes in the same week Westhoughton Conservative Cllr Bernadette Eckersley-Fallon surprised colleagues by quitting the council.

Cllr Newall said: “Paul is One Kearsley, it's as simple as that, he’s the ethos of it, he’s the driving force.

“So Mel and I were left with a decision and being a councillor is about what you can do for your constituents.

“We’ve got a lot of plans and a lot of things we want to do for the community and you just can’t do that as an independent councillor.

“It’s very, very difficult because you’re just adrift really.

“So me and Mel decided to continue working for our residents and be part of something bigger.”

Cllr Newall had originally been elected as a Labour councillor for Breightmet and has served as executive member for adult health and social care.

She left Labour in 2018, was re-elected as a One Kearsley candidate in the local elections of 2022 and has sat alongside departing party leader Mr Heslop since then.

Cllr Livesey joined them when she was elected to the Kearsley ward in May.

The pair now plan to continue advocating for policies like improved park areas and more funding for community facilities under their new banners.

Cllr Newall said: “We’re still the same people, we’ll just be sat in a different part of the council chambers."

Their move to Labour brings the ruling group up to 28 elected members, still slightly short of the 31 needed for an overall majority, but well ahead of the opposition Conservatives on 15.

The Conservatives had held 16 seats until Monday when Cllr Eckersley-Fallon, of Westhoughton North and Hunger Hill announced her resignation.

Mr Heslop said: “The decision to resign as a councillor is not one that has been taken lightly.

“For a while, I have discussed with my family and closest friends the fact that I miss travelling and don’t want to carry on being a councillor.

“Over the last two months alone, two of my school classmates and a good friend have very sadly died, all three around my age.

“I’m not sure whether it is just me whose thoughts after the initial sadness of hearing such news - turns to one’s own mortality.

“Virtually every one of my relatives and closest friends who I confided in said that I should be doing something that I really enjoy rather than something that is causing such anxiety.”

Mr Heslop helped set up Farnworth and Kearsley First in 2017.

He was elected to represent the Kearsley ward with a large majority of 1,847 two years later.

But in February 2020 he then left the party saying he had been 'struggling with its direction' and set up One Kearsley.

Bolton Council and Labour group leader Nick Peel says he is glad to have the two extra members in his party.

He said: “I welcome Cllr Debbie Newall and Cllr Melanie Livesey into the Labour Party.

“Paul Heslop has explained that for personal reasons, he has decided to call it a day and step down.

“I respect him for the courage of his decision, which would not have been easy."

He added: “Bolton Labour Party in the past was accused by the local independent parties of taking our eye off the ball when it came to the local towns, and I accept that we could have done better.

“However, the Labour group that now runs Bolton Council, after four years of Tory rule, is a new revitalised and a listening group.

“It is a group where talented councillors, like Debbie and Melanie, and anyone who holds to our ideals and wants to be part of improving of borough, are welcome.”

A by-election is expected to take place following the resignations of Cllr Heslop and Cllr Eckersley-Fallon.