CAMPAIGNERS will take a town hall boss to meet volunteers feeding the homeless next week, amid a dispute over the number of rough sleepers in Bolton.

Bolton Against Bedroom Tax (BABT) claimed last month that council figures stating that there are an average of just eight people sleeping on the town’s streets were a ‘gross underestimate’, estimating that the actual number is between 40 and 50.

They now plan to meet with Cllr Peel in the town centre next Tuesday and work together to produce new figures.

BABT’s Alan Johnson said: “We want to establish whether we can work together to get a correct figure of the number of rough sleepers in Bolton.

“There has been some dispute about that and we believe there are far more than the council says. Andy Burnham has said himself that the way that homeless figures are calculated is wrong.

“There are some moves going in in Greater Manchester now to address the homelessness problem and that is good.

“In this day and age and in the fifth richest country in the world, we should not have rough sleepers.

“Rough sleeping is never a lifestyle choice, no one would choose that.

“We are coming into winter now and nobody should have to be out on the streets.”

Last week, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burham announced a new action plan to help end rough sleeping across the region.

The measures will include £1.8 million of new funding and the opening of every fire station in the area to support homeless people, as well as a call to stop the rollout of the Universal Credit benefit scheme.

Cllr Peel said: “There is an issue with homelessness across the country.

"But, without taking away from the seriousness of that, we have got a more positive story to tell in Bolton because of the prevention work we have done.

“Our homelessness figures are decreasing and we have been able to keep rough sleeping to a minimum.

“The strategy we have employed in Bolton is working and we will be feeding that into Andy Burnham’s plans.

“Our figures come from our homelessness team, Urban Outreach, NHS community nurses, and a range of other volunteers.

“But if there are other facts and figures that can be presented, then that is something we are interested in.

"If we have missed something then we want to know about it.”

At the last full council meeting, Cllr Peel said that 80 per cent of Bolton’s 50 or so street beggars are neither rough sleeping nor homeless.