THE council has set out how much support it will put behind a major housing development and a Ryder Cup golf course at Hulton Park.

The move to axe a leading specialist barrister for the upcoming public inquiry has been rubber-stamped and now, an expert planning witness could also be scrapped.

This means junior barrister Matthew Dale Harris will represent Bolton Council at the hearing in October alone.

He will be arguing in favour of Peel’s proposal which was approved by the planning committee last year before it was called in by the government.

This comes after The Bolton News revealed that a top barrister who was set to represent the local authority was axed. David Elvin QC of Landmark Chambers, a planning law specialist, was released by Bolton Council ahead of yesterday’s cabinet meeting.

A report, which was given the nod at the meeting, stated that the council could replace planning witnesses had previously intended to call at the hearing.

The local authority intended to use the director of specialist planning and development consultants Quod as an expert witness, as well as a senior planner.

The appointment of the planning expert has now been delegated to director of place Gerry Brough who will consult with deputy leader Martyn Cox.

Council leader David Greenhalgh put forward a proposal to cut the costs of the inquiry at a council meeting last month.

He said: “This is about reducing costs, and saving money for this council wherever possible, while at the same time, making sure the council is protected and not put under any risk.

“As the ruling group, we see no reason why we should use council tax payers money for a senior barrister from a leading law firm. We see that as excessive and unnecessary.”

Labour leader Linda Thomas supported the move, noting that Hulton Park would remain as a protected green belt site if Peel’s plans are rejected by the government inspector.

This is because it was not allocated as a housing site in Bolton’s submission to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

Cllr Thomas said: “Our submission for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework states no housing on green belt. Bolton is the only Greater Manchester borough to achieve this. This means that if the minister rejects the application on Hulton Park to build over a thousand houses that there will be no new build there. This I believe is the overall council view now as the council supported Bolton’s submission unanimously.”

Lib Dem councillor David Wilkinson also supported the move. He said: “I don’t see the point in wasting money on it. Why waste a small fortunate on something when it’s assisting Peel. That quarter of a million could be spent on other things. Roads, footpaths – the list is endless.”

The public inquiry into Hulton Park will start on October 1.