OPPOSITION parties have forced Bolton Council to withdraw its support for an "unspecified" congestion charge.

Conservative and Lberal Democrat councillors pushed through a resolution from Cllr David Wilkinson at a meeting of the full council.

The controlling Labour group abstained, but the result of the vote means that council leader Cllr Cliff Morris must today tell the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, that Bolton no longer supports the principle of congestion charging.

The AGMA, which includes Bolton and nine other councils, met earlier this year and backed the idea in principle.

More details of the proposals will form part of a bid by the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority for £1 billion from the Government to improve public transport.

They are now expected to be ready by May 25. Consultation will follow before the bid is submitted at the end of July.

But Bolton's Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors say they should have details of the charge by now, claiming they have been left in the dark.

They supported a motion by Cllr Wilkinson, the Lib Dem highways spokesman, that read: "Despite a promise of full consultation, the Labour leadership of the GMPTA and AGMA is refusing to give any details of the proposed congestion charge until mid-May - conveniently after the local elections.

"This council resolves to withdraw support for an unspecified congestion charging scheme for Greater Manchester and asks the leader of the council and our representatives on the GMPTA to convey this to their respective bodies."

Trafford, Rochdale and Stockport Councils withdrew their support earlier this month for the same reason.

Cllr Wilkinson's motion was backed by Conservative highways spokesman Cllr John Walsh, who told the chamber: "We have not had any of the information members need if we are to represent Bolton's views.

"It's not appropriate for us to proceed with the sort of consultation sham that's been taking place."

Cllr Nick Peel, Labour's Bolton representative on the GMPTA, denied the proposals for the charge were being deliberately delayed until after the elections.

He said the motion had been put forward to try to win votes, accusing the Lib Dems of hypocrisy because their national policy supported the principle of the charge.

Cllr Morris, who was was today meeting fellow AGMA leaders, said: "I think they will just laugh at me because we would never agree to anything that was unspecified.

"But I will report it to them and see what they say."