A number of readers seem to have the mistaken impression that by talking about congestion charges Bolton Conservatives now support the idea.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let me put the record straight. The Government has decided that councils should bid to introduce congestion charging. With great secrecy and little open discussion, most council leaders in Greater Manchester decided to submit proposals.

Conservatives opposed that and the reported spending of about £10million in preparing the bid. At the council meeting in April, we voted against the plans.

Full details of the bid were only made public in late May and I for one am horrified at the proposals. The scheme is led by Manchester whose leaders seem determined to go ahead with congestion charges for the city but every household in Greater Manchester, including Bolton is to receive details. Bolton Council is also required to submit a response.

The carrot offered is that by introducing congestion charging, Bolton will get a new bus/rail interchange. Conservatives want to see that without the tax but equally want to see Bolton get its fair share of investment in public transport.

Congestion charges for Manchester could be the thin end of the wedge. Not to take part in discussions would be irresponsible and might imply support. The position is clear.

Conservatives are not prepared to put Bolton jobs and Bolton's economy at risk. Conservatives will continue to campaign against another stealth tax.

Cllr John Walsh, Leader of the Conservative Group, Bolton Council