ANDY Burnham has backed out of a meeting with angry residents who fear they may have to resort to ‘vigilante’ action due to a lack of policing.

Earlier this month, the Greater Manchester mayor was asked to intervene amid suggestions that Ladybridge residents could start patrolling their streets armed with baseball bats following a spate of burglaries.

Conservative Heaton and Lostock councillor Andy Morgan pointed out that the ward has no dedicated police officers or PCSOs, after which he was told either Mr Burnham or deputy mayor Bev Hughes would attend a meeting to address the issue. In a 10-week period between August and November, there were 39 burglaries in Heaton and Lostock — significantly more than in neighbouring wards.

However, it has now been confirmed that only a local police sergeant will attend the meeting, which is due to be held tomorrow.

The deputy mayor, who holds the policing and crime brief, said: “I recognise the concerns of the residents of Ladybridge about the lack of police presence in their area and because of this I have facilitated a meeting between residents and the local police team to address these issues.

“I am confident because of this that the issue can now be resolved at a local level through partnership work between residents, councillors and Greater Manchester Police.

“Because of cuts in the Government grant for policing every year for the last eight years, GMP has lost 2,000 police officers and another 1,000 police staff. Nonetheless, we retain a commitment to neighbourhood policing in these difficult circumstances.

“I would urge Cllr Morgan to lobby his own party on this issue and encourage them to change their position on police funding.

“This would mean GMP would be able to employ an appropriate number of police officers so areas across Greater Manchester, like Ladybridge, would have a stronger police presence.”

Cllr Morgan has reacted angrily to the news, saying that the purpose of this latest meeting should be to address police resources — something that senior management is responsible for.

He said: “Bev Hughes has done absolutely nothing to facilitate this meeting and is refusing to attend. She has not even spoken to me.

“We are back down to having only the local sergeant come to take the rap, which isn’t fair.

“Sgt Lister should not be the one who has to defend the fact that the police do not have enough resources. After I emailed Andy Burnham, his office responded to say that either he or Bev Hughes would attend.

“Now they have backed off, saying that they think Sgt Lister can cope with it.

“But we have already had a meeting with Sgt Lister and the local police aren’t the one making the operational decisions. It is the people way above them.

“I completely sympathise with the local policing team and they need some backing from senior management and the mayor’s office. Andy Burnham is the police and crime commissioner and he has to justify the tax increases he is asking people to pay for that.”

The meeting, which will also be attended by Bolton Council’s community safety team and the Ladybridge Residents Association, will be held at 7pm on Wednesday at the Ladybridge Community Centre.

It will be a closed meeting for councillors, council representatives, police and the Ladybridge Residents Association.