BOLTON Council has received a £1 million windfall from Manchester Airport — £725,000 more than it was expecting.

The council part-owns the airport with the nine other Greater Manchester local authorities and receives an annual dividend.

This February, finance bosses made a conservative estimate of a £275,000 dividend in the budget.

Local Tory chief John Walsh said the money could be used to save the town’s five underthreat libraries.

But the council’s deputy leader Linda Thomas said it was too early to say what the additional funds would be used for.

In previous years the council has used the money to subsidise free school meals and swimming for youngsters.

Cllr Thomas added: “We have not discussed options for the money yet as we have only just got it. But there are a number of competing priorities that we will have to look at.

“But Cllr Morris has consistently said our top priority has to be vulnerable children and adults.”

Cllr Walsh said: “This is £725,000 more than either anticipated or budgeted for.

The £200,000 needed to keep open all five libraries for a year, with more than £500,000 still in hand for other vital services.”

He added other options could then be looked at to help keep libraries open for another year, such as setting up charitable trusts.

Cllr Walsh is also in favour of cashing in by selling off the council’s stake in the airport, an idea which the Labour group rejects.

Locally, the Tories believe this would enable the council to settle its debts, freeing up interest payment to be spent on frontline services.

But Labour dismissed the proposal, with Cllr Thomas asking: “Why would we want to sell off the family silver when it is such a profitable asset?”

The results of a public consultation on the future of Bolton’s libraries will be announced on October 5.

Five libraries — Oxford Grove, Castle Hill, Astley Bridge, Heaton and Highfield — have been earmarked for closure in a bid to save £400,000.

The council’s full executive will consider the report at a Town Hall meeting on October 12. The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held in the Festival Hall, at 10am on October 12.