THIS newspaper’s campaign, calling for action to remedy the appalling state of the roads in Bolton, is a praiseworthy effort to galvanise the Government into positive, remedial action.

The focal point of the crusade involves trying to shame Westminster into assisting our local, cash-strapped authority to find the money, estimated at a staggering £33.6 million, just to bring its roads up to an acceptable standard.

It gets worse. Figures reveal that the borough’s entire infrastructure, which includes highways, pavements, bridges, street lighting and cycle paths, needs a whopping £76 million — enough to start a war. A relatively small one, yes, but a war nonetheless.

The size of the problem reportedly shocked the leaders of the three main political parties on Bolton Council, in which case one can only assume that they don’t do much driving around the place or, if they do, they travel in exceptionally well-sprung vehicles at modest speeds. To do otherwise is to invite structural damage, to machine and human body parts.

Motorists (I’m one of them) constantly complain about the expense involved in owning a vehicle but, in this case, we have a point. The Government annually collects £28 billion in taxes from us, yet allocates a miserly £5 billion for the entire road network of the UK, of which only £628 million finds its way to local authorities to maintain their roads.

It doesn’t need a mathematical genius to conclude that, with a huge number of towns and cities trying to claim a portion of that money, Bolton’s chances of getting £33.6 million, let alone £76 million, aren’t particularly rosy.

I have an idea which might be a better option. Residents of certain areas blighted by potholes could launch fighting funds to meet the cost of repairing their stretch of road. If the project took off, opportunities for companies who specialise in such work would be immense. Instead of sitting around, waiting for a call from Bolton Council, they would be snowed under with jobs and could even take people off the dole queue.

Residents could recover their cash outlay by charging motorists to use their length of repaired highway, like the stretch of the M6 where you pay to use its less congested part. Establishing a station to collect the toll could be a problem, but a strategically-placed resident with a secondhand “stinger”, purchased from traffic police, would discourage drivers who chose to ignore requests for payment.

I live on Chorley Old Road, which is significant length of Tarmacadam, and haven’t as yet canvassed householders and shopkeepers for their opinions, but confidently expect a positive response. In the absence of anything tangible from Government sources, self-help is the only hope.

When the Budget is revealed, motorists, along with smokers and drinkers, will feel Alistair Darling’s lash yet again. That situation will continue for donkey’s years, no matter which political party’s Chancellor carries the Red Box.

The lost trillions have to be recovered, so road repairs will be ignored. Pretty soon we’ll see grass growing through the cracks in our roads. Maybe they are the green shoots of recovery Mr Darling optimistically predicts are on the way.