THE cause of the fire at the Cube could be revealed in weeks as a report into the incident is "imminent".

Lessons from the fire which broke out at student accommodation in Bolton town centre will have "major policy implications", the Mayor of Greater Manchester has said.

Andy Burnham, who spoke to students affected by the fire at the University of Bolton today, told The Bolton News that he will be sending the full report to the Prime Minister.

He said: “I spoke to the Prime Minister on the morning after the Cube fire had happened. I think there was a real concern at the highest level of government.

"It looked as though we had a repeat of Grenfell within a couple of years. I think at that stage it wasn’t known if there were any casualties. Thankfully, there weren’t but it was just a matter of luck in many ways that there weren't any.

“There’s a huge number of policy issues that are coming out of this report. Just because there weren’t casualties, it doesn’t mean the government can say, 'that’s fine forget about that'. This was a near miss that can easily happen again."

Mr Burnham made the comments hours after he set the mayoral precepts of the council tax bill which will account for a third of the total increase for Bolton residents.

He said that raising council tax means he can put a planned merger of Bolton's two fire stations on hold, keep 50 fire engines in use across Greater Manchester and recruit 108 additional firefighters.

The Metro Mayor said that the fire at the Cube has changed his thinking on cuts to the fire service.

But he could not guarantee how long the Programme for Change proposals would be paused for.

He said: "I’m asking the council tax payers of Greater Manchester to pay more at a difficult time and I’m not sure how much longer I can ask them to do that.

“You cannot fund essential emergency services constantly through the council tax. That simply is not a sustainable way to do it. Central government, in my view, has got to stop the cuts to emergency services. If they stop the cuts – we’re not cutting it – therefore we can have a solid budget that can maintain the fire service in its current position.

“We have to look at where we make the savings if the cuts keep on coming. Much of this is beyond our control. If we were to make up all of the government’s cuts we’d be asking people for council tax which would be way above the current levels. So we are squeezing out all of the savings that we can.

"This is the end of a decade of cuts to Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service."

Planned changes to the fire service were revised in September before the mayor announced that cuts would be delayed.

Speaking to The Bolton News earlier this week, the Fire Brigades Union described the Metro Mayor's budget proposal as a "sticking plaster".

Mr Burnham said that he could understand why Greater Manchester brigade chair Ross Strother made these comments.

“I wouldn’t use the phrase ‘sticking plaster’. I think it’s more of a holding position waiting for a budget in March and a comprehensive spending review in the Autumn. Once we know the outcome of those two things, we will know where the fire service stands going into the 2020s. At that point we’d have to take a decision then about what we do with council tax and maybe have a debate with the Greater Manchester public."