METRO Mayor Andy Burnham has come under fire for preferring to 'waft around conferences' rather than attend watchdog meetings.

Three meetings of the combined authority's corporate issues and reform scrutiny committee have been abandoned as not enough Labour councillors showed up.

And Mr Burnham has come under fire from councillors in Stockport for ditching one scrutiny meeting to attend a meeting of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

Cllr John McGahan, Stockport's deputy Tory leader, said: "Being held to account and scrutinised is essential to democracy, wafting around conferences is not."

His Liberal Democrat colleague Cllr Mark Hunter said the city region's scrutiny arrangements were 'broken'.

The criticism comes against the backdrop of a new inspectors' report that says GMP –  already in special measures – is now performing so poorly it is putting public safety at risk.

A Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) spokesman said: “Of the 10 committee members that confirmed their attendance at the corporate issues and reform overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday, October 5, one did not attend, meaning the meeting was inquorate. An informal meeting was held instead.

“Apologies were received from the mayor and from one Labour, one Conservative, and one Liberal Democrat member of the committee.

“The mayor gave his apologies ahead of the meeting on Friday, October 1, as he was due to be speaking at a number of events at Conservative Party Conference and meeting with ministers to promote Greater Manchester’s comprehensive Levelling Up Deal, which has cross-party support and is backed by business leaders in the city-region. Notice was immediately given to the committee chair of the Mayor’s apologies.”

Officials say police accountability meetings have been set up, in addition to regular police and crime panel sessions. An independent scrutiny review has been pledged.