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Number's not up for plate on mayor's limo29-Sep-2011

The suggestion, made by a member of the public at the libraries debate last week, was swiftly vetoed by Bolton Council chief executive Sean Harriss, because of strict government spending rules.

It was suggested, at the meeting last Thursday at Bolton Central Library, that betting corporation William Hill would pay at least £500,000 for the desirable registration number.

But Mr Harriss said current laws prevented the council from spending the money on public services and it would only be able to invest profits in another asset.

The situation would be comparable to the current bid to sell off council-owned works of art.

Money from the sales of works of art are to be put towards a new storage facility.

Mr Harriss said: “Even if Bolton sold WH1, it couldn’t use the money to run libraries.

“There is a difference between capital and revenue expenditure.

“We can’t use that money to run services, that’s the way the law works.”

Bolton Tory chief Cllr John Walsh was also quick to rule out the idea, saying the number plate was far too important for Bolton’s heritage.

Speaking after the meeting, he added: “It was an interesting suggestion and provoked some debate, but I think we should hang on to things like that.

“It was given to the town by William Hesketh Lever, Lord Leverhulme, and he had that number because WH1 was the closest he could get to WHL, and he left his mark on the town with that number plate.

“Half-a-million pounds was mentioned at the meeting, but there is no number plate selling for anything close to that.”

William Hesketh Lever developed his soap-making company into the global giant which evolved into Unilever.