BOTTLED water has been banned from all council-run buildings in Bolton.

Instead staff and councillors at the Town Hall, local authority offices and schools are being told to drink tap water.

The move was suggested by council leader, Cliff Morris, in a bid to help save the environment and promote the use of the region's tap water supplies.

It was given cross party support at a meeting of the full council this week.

The move will lead to all water coolers which have large plastic bottles on top being removed from council buildings. Smaller bottles, which are sometimes supplied will also be banned. They will be replaced with water fountains which will be connected to the main supply.

Cllr Morris said: "This is a green issue and we felt we should lead by example. We are looking at our recycling rates and are trying to set an example.

"We have a pure water supply and we will be drinking it at the Town Hall as a way of encouraging people to drink our own water."

The measures will be brought in gradually so a full evaluation can be carried out to ensure the tap water is safe to be drunk as there are fears supplies to some of the council's older buildings could be carried through lead pipes.

It is estimated the council spends around £32,000 every year bringing bottled water into its buildings. It buys supplies from Bronte Water, which is bottled from a spring 50 metres under the Pennines in Haworth, Yorkshire.

It is not expected the plans to ban spring water will initially save cash as work will have to be done to connect fountains safely the mains supply.

The move was overwhelmingly supported at the full council meeting.

Leader of Bolton's Liberal Democratic party, Cllr Roger Hayes, said: "Properly filtered and chilled tap water us just as good as anything you ca buy in a bottle and is a lot more environmentally ."

Some councillors had concerns about the addition of fluoride to Bolton's water supply in the future.

Cllr John Walsh, leader of the Conservative Party in Bolton, said: "We fully support this measure on environmental grounds. However, by taking away the choice to drink bottled water, we are forcing people to drink tap water, which in time could contain fluoride. That would be wrong.

"This motion in reality, was nothing but a token gesture with empty sentiment."

But Cllr Morris insisted the issue would be re-examined if fluoride was added to the borough's water.

He said: "We haven't got into the debate about fluoride and at the moment people are happy to drink tap water."