FORGET the politics – plans for Bolton town centre have now gone far beyond that. To common sense.

Yes, I know there’s an Election tomorrow and literally everything is labelled as vote-getting. But views on whether the Council’s vision of Bolton town centre or Bolton Civic Trust’s is the best one are actually about perceptions of what is best for the town.

Timing may seem strange for defending MP David Crausby’s backing of the Civic Trust’s plans but it neither invalidates his point of view nor makes it wrong.

Let’s look at the facts. The University of Bolton and Bolton Council want to build £43 million student accommodation in Cheadle Square, adjacent to and overlooking historic Le Mans Crescent and Town Hall.

The Civic Trust’s plans want this area kept open, preserving its views and access to Moor lane, with an activity centre surrounded by green spaces created. They suggest the bus station site as suitable for student accommodation, along with a possible industrial heritage centre and a statue of Bolton benefactor Lord Leverhulme.

A new £50 million transport interchange is being built at the top of Newport Street. The Civic Trust would like a proper gateway to the town, with a row of canopies for market stalls to provide an interesting place for people walking to and from the town centre.

Bolton Council want to build a café and restaurant within the Town Hall as part of its improvements, altering the stone façade and getting rid of the water fountains. The Trust wants the Town Hall left alone, with those planned facilties sited on the other side of Victoria Square.

The Trust held a meeting last night to show these plans to the public and it will be interesting to see where that takes us and what happens next. Council leader Cliff Morris says that any plans need to comply with what English Heritage wants, and that’s a pertinent point to be kept at the forefront of any alternative plans.

The Trust’s plans definitely look far more like the vision most people in Bolton would want - a vibrant town centre with plenty to see and do.

Include plenty of free parking, a tough stance on vandalism and littering, and genuine encouragement – including financially – to people to trade, stage events and visit our town centre and we just might get back to somewhere to be proud of.