Metro Mayor Andy Burnham said he could not ignore a campaign for Bolton to return to Lancashire if support was widespread – but slammed it as 'backward-looking'.

The borough became a part of Greater Manchester on April 1, 1974, after the introduction of The Local Government Act by the Ted Heath administration.

Recently Nick Buckley, a previous candidate in the mayoral election two years ago and a prospective candidate in the mayoral election in 2024, backed a campaign for Bolton to return to Lancashire via a vote.

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The issue was raised on BBC Radio Manchester this week when Mr Burnham appeared on In The Hotseat, a regular segment which allows callers to ask questions to the metro mayor.

One of these callers said: "I've always been a bit cheated about being brought out of the Country of Lancashire because my birth certificate says I was born in the County of Lancashire. 

"If there was a vote, I'd be severely tempted, sorely tempted. But what does it mean in your opinion?"

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Mr Burnham said the borough would miss out on the Bee Network, the transport system set to start on September 24, as well as other benefits such as investment in its town centres.

He said: "The majority of people in Bolton are proud to be a part of Greater Manchester. I realise there is an older generation who might look back to the pre-1974 days but this is a backward-looking campaign. 

"It would reduce the benefits people in Bolton get from being a part of Greater Manchester and I do not think it has majority support."

But, under pressure from presenter Mike Sweeney, the metro mayor said he could not ignore the campaign if support was widespread.

He said: "It is a democracy and if this campaign has majority support in Bolton I could not ignore it.

"I would listen to the points of view and I would respect a democratic decision."

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.