THE car is here to stay ... according to the next generation of Bolton motorists.

More than 100 schoolchildren took part in a debate in the council chamber at Bolton town hall on whether people have the right to own a car.

The event was part of "democracy week" where local councils are inviting children into town halls to try and persuade them to develop an interest in local government.

Youngsters from Bolton secondary schools were invited along for morning and afternoon sessions.

They were asked to vote on whether in view of the increase in pollution and congestion, people still had a right to own and freely use a car.

Tory deputy leader Cllr John Walsh put the case in favour in both sessions.

The case against was put by Labour deputy council leader Cllr Guy Harkin in the morning and his Labour colleague Cllr Noel Spencer in the afternoon.

The vote in the morning session was 50 for and 20 against, but in the afternoon, it was much tighter 25 in favour and 20 against.

Cllr Walsh joked afterwards: "It is not often I win a vote twice in this council chamber."

He said during the debate: "The car remains a force for the good. It brings freedom to millions across society."


He argued that Government decisions to stop new roads and by-passes had increased pollution while cars waited in traffic jams.

But Cllr Spencer argued that it was essential to take traffic off the roads in order to allow essential users better conditions.

He said that car ownership in this region was predicted to rise by 25 pc over the next few years and this would lead to increased congestion, pollution, accidents and health problems.

Mr Peter Wilson, Bolton Council's director of central services, who introduced the debate said that the aim was to increase interest in local democracy.

He added that he hoped it would encourage them to vote when they were old enough and even eventually be interested in becoming councillors.

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