A PROMISE to develop a fairer asylum seeker system has been welcomed by councillors who say the current situation is "unacceptable".

The Home Secretary wrote to Andy Burnham acknowledging the "uneven distribution" of asylum seekers.

He wrote to the Greater Manchester mayor reaffirming the government's commitment to work with the city-region to ensure an "equitable dispersion" of asylum seekers across the North West.

This came after Mr Burnham threatened to stop housing asylum seekers in Greater Manchester, revealing that a quarter are housed in the North West with 70 per cent of those living within the city-region.

In Bolton, 1,012 asylum seekers are supported, more than any other town in the UK.

Opposition leader David Greenhalgh welcomed the government's commitment to develop a fairer system, describing the current system as "unacceptable".

He said: “It’s not acceptable for Bolton and its residents."

His Conservative colleague, Cllr Martyn Cox, welcomed the action taken by the mayor and warned of the dangers of ignoring the issue.

He said: “I was really pleased that Andy Burnham took this up. If mainstream politicians don’t pick it up, then others will.”

The issue was discussed at a cabinet meeting on Monday at which an update from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority was provided.

Labour councillor Nick Peel agreed with the mayor's approach and said the issue is too important to be used as "political football".

He said: “We think it should be equitable. For too long Greater Manchester has been taken advantage of."

Council leader Linda Thomas has previously blamed the allocation system which is sub-contracted to Serco.

Liberal Democrat leader Roger Hayes added: “Because areas like Bolton have cheap prices for property, that’s why Serco tend to put them in Bolton. Bolton has been welcoming of people historically. But we do need fairer distribution.”