CONTROVERSIAL delicacy foie gras has been banned from Bolton Council events.

The pate is made by force-feeding ducks and geese until their livers swell up to ten times their normal size, but opponents say the practice causes terrible suffering.

Councillors approved Liberal Democrat Cllr Richard Silvester's motion to ban it from all council functions after he revealed it was last month on the menu at a Bolton Food and Drink Festival function at the Reebok Stadium's De Vere Whites Hotel.

Members from all parties also voted to support a call for the council to do all it could to ban or discourage the sale of the French delicacy across Bolton.

Chief executive Sean Harriss will write to the Government minister responsible for animal welfare, Lord Rooker, asking for him to lobby for its sale to be banned Europe-wide.

There is already a ban on its production in this country but it is imported by some outlets.

Bolton is only the second council in the country to approve such a motion, after York.

Cllr Elaine Sherrington said force-feeding birds was "absolutely gross".

"Doing this to animals for someone eating in a fancy restaurant is unacceptable," she said.

"If we allow this to happen we might as well have bear-baiting and cock-fighting back.

Only her Labour colleague, Cllr Laurie Williamson, voted against the ban.

Cllr Williamson said the UK should respect the traditions of its European neighbours, adding: "As far as Bolton is concerned this is a tiny or negligible issue and I've yet to be convinced we need to get involved."

After the meeting, Cllr Silvester welcomed the move. "Hopefully this will send out a message out to the Government and anywhere serving foie gras in Bolton."

Several animal rights campaigners watched from the public gallery.

Elizabeth King, a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) group from Westhoughton, said: "This is fantastic. I saw foie gras on the menu for the De Vere Whites event and was horrified."

A PETA demonstrator from London had been force-fed cous-cous outside the town hall ahead of the meeting to highlight the issue.