A REFERENDUM to be held in Bolton could pave the way for a national vote on whether Britain stays in Europe.

The Bolton West constituency has been put on a shortlist as one of 13 places across the country where a poll could take place.

The People’s Pledge, an independent organisation, has commissioned Electoral Reform Services to carry out the poll in April.

It hopes the results of the polls will force MPs to seriously consider voting for a full UK referendum in the next Parliament.

Bolton West will find out if it has been selected as the host constituency for the first referendum within the next week.

If it is not selected for the first poll, it is likely it will be one of 10 further minireferendums to be held across the UK later this year.

Selection for the next 10 will take place in late May for a polling day in the autumn. There will be a range of constituencies, representing a range of political parties.

People’s Pledge communications director Ian McKenzie said: “The last time Britain had a referendum on whether we should stay in the Common Market was in 1975, since when it has changed beyond recognition from an economic to a political union.

“A referendum in the next parliament would determine the modern, settled view of the British people.”

To ensure full independence, the Electoral Reform Services will administer the referendums by full postal ballot.

Polls for the first referendum will close at 5pm on Thursday, April 5.

The People’s Pledge said its campaign would include high-visibility shop front headquarters, door-to-door canvassing, posters, leaflet drops, street stalls, public meetings and other events.

The organisation is urging people to join its campaign at peoplespledge.org Bolton West MP Julie Hilling said: “Of course I always welcome open and informed debates about Europe but this referendum to ask for a referendum sounds like a very expensive distraction.

“What my constituents tell me on the doorstep and in my surgeries is that they are really worried about the economy, jobs and unemployment, the ever rising cost of food and energy, cuts and the increasing difficulty of making ends meet.