BOLTON Council’s controversial leader was given a standing ovation at his final full council meeting as the town hall’s figurehead.

Cllr Cliff Morris, who is stepping down from his role on December 31, joked that opposition councillors might wish he was staying on as leader as he ‘will not be constrained’ when he speaks from the council chamber’s backbenches.

Cllr Morris, who is not due for re-election until 2020, will continue to represent Halliwell ward.

The mayor, Cllr Roger Hayes, praised his’ ‘hard work and dedication’, while Conservative leader Cllr David Greenhalgh said he had ‘always been inclusive and embraced the Bolton family’.

Tributes were also paid to council chief executive Margaret Asquith, who was overseeing her final full council meeting before retiring next year.

Tony Oakman is due to take over as chief executive in January, before Ms Asquith leaves the council in March.