LABOUR have strengthened their grip on Bolton Council after making gains in local elections.

Votes were this morning counted at Bolton Arena, scene of last night's general election count, where Labour candidates were returned in all three constituencies.

And the party enjoyed similar success in the local elections.

Labour gains included two seats where former Labour councillors were standing as independents. It means the party now has 30 seats in the council - exactly half.

The Conservatives now have 22 seats on Bolton Council and the Lib Dems have eight.

Labour's Noel Spencer retained his Farnworth seat in the first results of the day announced.

In the second Labour win of the day, Akhtar Zaman retained his Halliwell seat with a massive majority, polling 3,228 votes compared to the 882 of his nearest rival, the Lib Dems' Francine Godfrey.

Cllr Zaman said: "I feel very good, I think the people of Halliwell have spoken and they have spoken very loudly."

Conservative Andy Morgan has retained his Hulton seat while Labour's Nick Peel has kept hold of Tonge with the Haulgh.

Mohammed Ayub has retained his seat in Great Lever for Labour with a majority of just over 1,000.

The first "shock" of the day saw Labour's Kevan Jones wrestle control of Westhoughton South from the Lib Dems' Julia Silvester.

Labour's Ismail Ibrahim has retained his Rumworth seat with a majority of more than 3,000.

Fellow Labour candidate Lynda Byrne, next year's Mayoress, continued the trend of holding seats by winning hers in Breightmet.

It capped a perfect 24 hours for Labour, after keeping their hold on the borough's three Parliamentary seats.