ANDY Burnham has been challenged to ‘prove his worth’ as Greater Manchester Mayor to justify a new charge.

Plans to implement an average £7 charge on council tax bills in the city-region to pay for the mayoral role was agreed by council leaders yesterday.

Critics have argued that residents were not aware that they would have to pay between £6 and £18 a year before the elected mayor role was created.

Bolton West MP Chris Green said that he was ‘concerned’ by the high council tax burden already facing households.

He added: “There are enough expenses in life without facing more burdens like this.

“There was no democratic mandate from the people of Manchester to have a mayoral position.

“Now it is incumbent on Andy Burnham to prove his worth as mayor.

“The thing that he needs to start with is improving law and order in Bolton, because there are too many problems and not enough policing in the area.”

Earlier this week, Mr Burnham said that — while he knew it was a ‘big ask’ for people to pay more — he was ‘facing pressure from the public to go further and faster on tackling homelessness and congestion while protecting green spaces’.

Following the meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority yesterday, acting Bolton Council leader Cllr Linda Thomas said that she and colleagues had worked to keep the new charge ‘as low as possible’.

She said: “In arriving at the final precept figure, we have ensured that it meets people’s needs and acknowledges the growing pressures on social care and the diminishing resources we are operating with to drive the changes residents want to see.”

Cllr Thomas added: “Devolution is not a blank cheque and we have got an awful lot of responsibilities with the elected mayor.”

In also moving to raise the policing element of the council tax precept by £9.33 this year, Mr Burnham said he planned to recruit 50 new police officers and guarantee no reduction in PCSO numbers.