BOLTON only stands to benefit from becoming part of a new Greater Manchester city region, according to the town’s council leader.

Ahead of an extraordinary council meeting tomorrow night, Bolton Council leader Cliff Morris talked up the benefits of the town’s inclusion in the historic deal.

Bolton is one of the 10 Greater Manchester authorities which form the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA), which looks at issues affecting the region, such as the economy and transport, where working together brings benefits.

The new city region body would replace AGMA and give the 10 councils more collective powers and responsibilities, but it is not yet clear what those powers could be.

But Cllr Morris said it was important for Bolton to be “at the table” when it came to making decisions to boost the Greater Manchester economy. And he said the devolution of power from central government was a major step forward.

He said: “We have been asking for devolved powers for the last 10 to 15 years and now the Government is giving us those powers and asking if we are mature enough to use them. We have to have a seat at the table and not be on the outside looking in.”

While town hall chiefs have admitted it would be difficult to quantify immediately what difference the new system would make, Bolton Council chief executive Sean Harriss said the long-term benefits would be clear to see.

He said: “People will look back in five to 10 years and say this was a very important step for the region.”

Councillors have had concerns over several aspects of the city region proposals, including its name, a lack of an opt-out clause and the move towards an overall majority when it came to making policy decisions.

But Cllr Morris said Bolton’s influence within Greater Manchester was evident in the fact that he had been able to secure deals surrounding all three concerns.

Voting on key decisions will continue to be a two-thirds majority to approve; all authorities have agreed to support counterparts who want to leave after economic reviews; and the name has been changed from the Greater Manchester City Region to the City Region Combined Authority (CRCA).

Cllr Morris said: “This is not about Bolton losing its identity, it is about using Greater Manchester to enhance the reputation.”

If agreed, the new authority would not come into being until autumn at the earliest.

A potential change of government at the General Election is not thought to be a major stumbling block, as long as the process has been started.