CONGESTION charging was the hot topic when business leaders met Andy Burnham, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, at the Bolton Arena.

The Leigh MP met local bosses to discuss issues affecting the regional economy.

They raised concerns about the proposed levy on roads into Manchester.

Greater Manchester would get £3 billion for public transport improvements, £2 billion of which would be funded by a loan paid off using proceeds from congestion charges.

In Bolton, improvements could include a new rail and bus interchange at the Trinity Street railway station, an 11-mile bus corridor to Manchester, and more carriages on trains.

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce chief executive Angie Robinson told the meeting that a survey of its members had showed an even split for and against congestion charging.

"It is apparent that people need more detail on the scheme before they can consider it further," she said.

Other subjects discussed included threats to British manufacturing from overseas companies and supplementary business rates, which would enable councils to impose a 2p-in-the-pound on local firms.

Mr Burnham said: "As we approach budget time, it is particularly useful to have heard the views of those running businesses on such a broad range of issues."