Discussions are ongoing about the future of Bolton's vacant Marks and Spencer building.

The town centre department store announced its closure a year ago this month sparking widespread dismay about the state of the high street.

Since then, no further details have been released about the future of the space and a member of council’s ruling group has claimed they have been told not to ask questions publicly about it.

A Bolton Labour source said: “The town centre was a massive issue for us in the local elections, rightly so given how regeneration seemed to stall in the last four years.

“But it means people keep asking us what we are going to do.

The Bolton News: Marks and Spencer closed down in April last yearMarks and Spencer closed down in April last year (Image: Newsquest)

“The questions are almost always about what we will do with the empty Marks and Spencer store, but we’ve just been told it's ‘sensitive’ and that we can’t say anything publicly yet.

“It's very frustrating because people will only take so much of my stonewalling.”

The source, who does not wish to be identified, says that council officers have said that the issue is too commercially sensitive for questions to be posed in a public forum about it.

Marks and Spencer, which had a presence in Bolton since 1892 until last April announced that it was closing its Deansgate branch last year in response to “changing shopping habits.”

This came amid a wave of closures all over the country, but Marks and Spencer’s Middlebrook branch has so far survived the cull.

Another branch also still survives at The Rock shopping centre in Bury.

The Deansgate branch finally closed its doors amid emotional scenes for staff and regular customers in April last year.

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A vacant boarded up building now stands where the department store used to be prompting long running questions about what it will be eventually used for.

But in response, Bolton Council says that officials are aware people want to know what their plans are, which they hope to reveal in due course.

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said: “We know many people were disappointed when M&S closed its Bolton town centre branch in 2023, and we appreciate residents are keen to understand what the plan is for this key site.

“Discussions about the future of the building, and how it may support wider regeneration activity across the town centre, are ongoing, and we will share an update as soon as we are able to.”