TOWN Hall bosses will debate banning a badger cull in Bolton — despite there being no plans for one in the borough.

The issue will be debated at tonight’s full council meeting after Cllr Richard Silvester put forward a motion urging the local authority to use its power to stop any planned extermination of the animals if the government attempt to introduce one within Bolton’s boundaries.

It follows pilot culls of badgers in Somerset and Gloucestershire last year in a bid to stop the spread of tuberculosis among cattle, which critics say were ineffective and unnecessarily cruel.

It is unknown exactly how many badgers are in Bolton, made harder by the fact they are a shy animal, according to the Lancashire Wildlife Trust.

There is currently no known bovine TB problem in Bolton and the surrounding countryside, making a cull very unlikely.

If passed, Bolton Council will call on the government to undertake more research to find cheaper and more effective vaccinations for badgers and cattle to eradicate bovine TB, and formally slam the culls as “embarrassing and costly catalogue of errors”.

Astley Bridge resident Clare Forster launched her own campaign and collected more than 100 signatures calling on the council to speak out against the practice.

The 44-year-old said: “I am absolutely thrilled, and if the motion is approved it will be a great success for Bolton’s badgers, “The culls are inhumane, they weren’t cost effective and they haven’t worked — why the government wants to carry on with them is beyond me.

“Other methods, such as vaccinations, need to be looked at, methods that work and are more humane.”

In recent years Cllr Silvester has introduced similarly ethical motions, which include banning Town Hall officials from enjoying foie gras in council properties or using eggs from battery hens.

You can follow all the action from tonight’s council meeting on The Bolton News' online live blog from 7pm.