TOWN Hall bosses have voted to protect Bolton’s badgers from a cull — even though one had not been planned.

Councillors passed a motion by Horwich councillor Richard Silvester calling on a block to any government attempts to cull the animals on council land to stop the spread of bovine TB — despite it not being known is Bolton has badgers and criticism it was “quite useless”.

The council will now ask the government to undertake more research to find cheaper, more effective vaccinations to stop the spread of the disease, and officers will prepare a report for leader of the council Cllr Cliff Morris to examine.

Cllr Bob Allen, who voted for, said there was a problem with the motion as the council did not have the power to tell farmers on private land what they could do.

He added: “Altogether it is actually quite pointless, because the council does not have the power to enforce it.

“Despite this, I will be supporting the motion simply because of the second part, which asks for more research. I think it would be foolish of the government not to do more research.

“I wish Cllr Silvester and the badgers all the best.”

Cllr Martyn Cox slammed the motion as detrimental to farmers by taking away their flexibility to decide what is best for their animals, should a crisis such a bovine TB affect their livelihood.

He added: “It is motions like this that give politicians a bad name.

Cllr Cox called for more facts and added: “We must not fall into the trap of replacing the things that have the best chance of working with things that look good.”

The motion was passed by a majority, while six councillors chose to abstain.

Environmentalist Clare Forster, who set up her own petition calling on Bolton Council to prohibit any future cull of badgers, which attracted more than 1,400 signatures, said she was thrilled the motion was passed.

She added: “I thought Cllr Silvester spoke very well and he had all the facts.

“From a scientific and economic point of view any more culls of the badger population are a crazy idea.”

Celebrities who back a ban on badger cull include Queen guitarist Brian May, Bolton comedian Dave Spikey, Bury actress Gemma Atkinson, and wildlife expert Bill Oddie.