At the November 2021 Council meeting, Trafford Council unanimously condemned scrutiny of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Mayor Burnham. Conservatives had brought a Motion to Council on the basis that nearly half of GMCA’s scrutiny meetings had been cancelled so far in 2021 due to lack of attendance from committee members. This has restricted the ability of committee members to scrutinise the work of the Authority, which in 2021/22 had a General Budget of £477.8m.
Cllr. Nathan Evans, Leader of the Opposition at Trafford Council said “It is encouraging that all Trafford councillors agree that there is a problem with GMCA scrutiny arrangements, but it is unbelievable that the Liberal Democrat’s ‘sat on their hands’ and didn’t vote on the Conservative Motion. The Greens did what they always do and supported the Labour Party who in turn chose to amend the original Conservative Motion. The outcome was to water down the Motion from it being a call on the government to intervene and to resolve the problem to a request that a promised internal GMCA review of scrutiny gets underway. This is basically asking the GMCA to ‘mark its, and the Mayor’s own homework’ rather than enabling proper external checks to be undertaken.
“Effective scrutiny of the Combined Authority is essential as an average Band D Trafford Council Tax payer is currently paying over £300.00 plus hard earned cash per year towards the cost of GMCA services. We wouldn’t want the GMCA to go the same way as Liverpool City Council where government-appointed commissioners were sent in following an emergency inspection of the council which found a ‘serious breakdown of governance’ and multiple failures to provide best value to taxpayers in the city.”
Sources close to the Gazette have indicated radical changes could be on the way for scrutiny in Greater Manchester, with ministers reviewing options for a more ‘professional’ setup.