THE crumbling state of Bolton's roads is set to get worse rather than better, it has been revealed .

The borough's roads have been deteriorating badly, but council bosses say there is no cash to pay for repairs.

Cracks, potholes and deep ruts have appeared in roads over the last few years because of cuts in maintenance budgets.

Now council chiefs have confirmed that even less money will be available for road repairs from April.

Town hall bosses say the highways maintenance budget will be cut by £400,000 in the next financial year, meaning even less money will be available for repairs.

The move has led to calls from opposition councillors for the Liberal Democrat-controlled council to put pressure on the Government to make money available to bring Bolton's roads up to scratch.

Cllr Roger Hayes, the deputy leader of Bolton Council, described the poor state of many roads as "serious", but admitted he was powerless to do anything about them.

He claimed increasing pressure on the council's budget and reduced Government funding meant there was little money to pay for improvements.

Cllr Hayes believes £1 million is needed to prevent the further deterioration of Bolton's roads - but that the only way of raising cash would be to take money from vital services or to raise council tax.

And he admitted that, unlike in the past, there was little money left over from the council's buget at the end of this financial year to plough into road repairs.

"It is frustrating because we would love to tackle this problem which is a great cause of concern for many people," he said.

But Labour boss Cllr Cliff Morris said the council's Liberal Democrat leadership had the resources at its disposal but was choosing to spend money on other areas.

He said:"We would have put more money into roads but the Lib Dems obviously have other priorities."

To balance the books, councillors have had to reduce the highways maintenance budget for 2005/6 by £400,000, with £60,000 taken from the structural maintenance budget, £77,000 from the route maintenance fund and £50,000 from engineering staffing.

Conservative highways spokesman Cllr Norman Critchley said the state of Bolton's roads had become a major concern for the public.

"We need the council to start fighting for more money to tackle this issue before the roads get even worse," he said.

Highways departments across England and Wales have revealed a £943 million backlog as councils channel funding into areas such as education and social services.

A study published last week by the Asphalt Industry Association revealed that the number of "visual defects" on minor roads has risen by 69 per cent in a decade because councillors regard them as "Cinderella services".

It is also claimed that safety is being compromised.

Local authorities are responsible for 95 per cent of Britain's road networks. Motorways and trunk roads are in the hands of the Highways Agency.

The report also said that claims by motorists against councils have surged by 60 per cent after sub-standard roads damaged their cars or led to accidents.

Charles Oakes, chairman of the Bolton Hackney Association, which represents taxi drivers, said his members were suffering because of the problem.

"Bolton's roads are in a terrible state and most of them have potholes or dropped man covers," he said.

"It is people such as taxi drivers who suffer the most because of the cost in maintaining their vehicles. There is a real toll on steering and shock absorbers. Chorley Old Road, for instance, is riddled with potholes."

Hugh German, secretary of the Bolton branch of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said he was concerned about the deterioration of Bolton's roads.

"The roads in Bolton are getting worse," he said. "The road near Pinewood Studios is very busy at the moment because the diversions in the area and its surface has badly deteriorated. Chorley New Road needs resurfacing work."

Residents in Crescent Road, Great Lever, say they are constantly being disturbed by noise caused by a large pothole on the road.

Jose Tyldsley said her home shook when lorries going to a nearby mill run over it every night.

"We have had enough. It is just getting worse and worse but still nobody does anything about it," she said.