CASH-strapped council bosses have brought the curtain down on Bolton Show because they can no longer afford to hold it.

The once annual event - which regularly attracted crowds of up to 90,000 - was due to be held later this year for the first time since 2003.

But Bolton Council leaders say they have been forced to axe the show to save £25,000 which will be diverted into other parts of the councils budget.

A series of smaller community events will be held across the borough in future years instead of the Bolton Show.

A programme of summer events is expected to be decided upon in the next month.

Plans were announced by the Labour administration in February 2004, to hold the show every two years instead of annually, as part of budget cuts.

No show was held that summer after flooding in Leverhulme Park caused organisers to cancel the event at the eleventh hour.

Liberal Democrat, Cllr Roger Hayes, the executive member for environmental services, said the Bolton Show would be missed but that the council had no choice but to pull the plug because of financial constraints.

He added: "The show has been very successful and it will be greatly missed. We had to look at our priorities and we decided that trying to improve the borough's highways was a much bigger priority."

The Bolton Show grew out of the old argicultural show of the 1950s held to allow local horticultural, flower and vegetable societies to show off their produce.

It was reintroduced in 1981 after a 25 year break and was expanded to include activities such as horse riding and motorcycling.

The last Bolton Show in 2003 was hailed as the best ever after pulling in a record crowd of 90,000.

Stuntman performances, clowns and a music stage featuring bands performing reggae, soul and Asian music were all part of the attraction.

Labour leader Cllr Cliff Morris hit out at the decision to cancel the event.

He said: "The last time it was held it drew record crowds and I think that the Lib Dems are trying to blame others for their mistakes."

Leading Conservative Cllr Andy Morgan said: "Bolton Show was the biggest event in the borough and the money that this move will save is a drop in the ocean. The council is still funding events such as the Westhoughton Show, the Mela and the Horwich Carnival and I do not think it is fair that Bolton should miss out on this popular event."