One of Bolton’s longest serving and well-known political party leaders has stepped down.

Cllr Roger Hayes, of Smithills, led the Liberal Democrat group at town hall across two spells having also previously served as Mayor of Bolton.

But after last week’s council elections he has now decided to step down as party leader.

Cllr Hayes said: “It’s been a considerably longer time than some Conservative prime ministers have lasted, and I’ve enjoyed it immensely!

“But we’ve got some very talented people in the group now and I think the time has come to give them a chance.”

The Bolton News: Cllr Garry Veevers is the new leader of the Liberal Democrat groupCllr Garry Veevers is the new leader of the Liberal Democrat group (Image: Bolton Council)

Born in Cheltenham, Gloucester Cllr Hayes first moved to Bolton in 1973 and was elected to represent the Smithills area, which he has long been associated with, in 1984.

Cllr Hayes has represented the area for the last four decades, barring a two-year break from 1996 to 1998.

He served as deputy leader of the council and executive member for environmental services from 2004 to 2006, before becoming leader in 2007, and served as Mayor alongside wife Jaleh as Mayoress from 2017-18.

Over that year, his three chosen Mayoral charities were Urban Outreach, City of Sanctuary Bolton, and the Royal Bolton Hospital Charitable Fund.

Cllr Hayes leaves his party holding six seats at Bolton Council spread across Smithills and the two Westhoughton wards.

Despite stepping down as party leader, Cllr Hayes will continue representing the Smithills area alongside his party colleagues Cllr Garry Veevers and Cllr Susan Priest.

The Liberal Democrat group also includes Cllr David Wilkinson, of Westhoughton South, Cllr Deirdre McGeown of Westhoughton North and Hunger Hill and Cllr Arthur Price, also of Westhoughton North and Hunger Hill.

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At least week’s elections Cllr Veevers topped the poll to be re-elected in Smithills and he has now been confirmed as Cllr Hayes’ successor as party leader.

Cllr Hayes said: “I think Garry brings a bit of youth and some very sensible, logical ideas.

“He’s a very level headed guy and I think he’s got support across the group.”

He added: “I think its probably time now to spend a bit more time with my family and a bit more time in the garden but there’s still plenty to be done!”