Liverpool mayor attacks "ignorant and insensitive" Burnham over devolution

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said he will take legal advice on pulling out of new "super council".

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson has criticised shadow home secretary Andy Burnham's claim that the role of metro mayor is a "cabinet-level job, which needs cabinet-level experience" as "ignorant and insensitive".

In an interview with the Guardian, Anderson said Burnham's comments are "disrespectful to every local government leader who has worked hard for their area".

Burnham made the claim when he announced his intention to bid for Labour's candidate for metro mayor of Greater Manchester. The new mayor, who will take office next year, will head up the city-region's combined authority as part of the Devo Manc devolution deal.

"I still feel we get treated as second-class citizens at times; we do not get the investment that London and the South gets," he added.

Burnham, who was born in Liverpool, has been MP for the Greater Manchester constituency of Leigh since 2001.

But Mayor Anderson said devolution should "not about big hitters" and he criticised Labour for not taking the lead on transferring powers to the North when it was in office.

"Let me say to Andy Burnham and other shadow cabinet members, whether they're standing or not - a Labour government should have pushed on this agenda of devolution and it's a sad reflection of Labour that we're having to do business with a Tory government that is bludgeoning us," he said.

A spokesperson for Burnham told the Guardian: "The mayor of Greater Manchester is a very different job, including running the NHS and police. The mayor needs in-depth knowledge of the NHS – something that Andy Burnham has from his time as health secretary."

Anderson, who was re-elected as Liverpool mayor in May with more than 50 per cent of the vote, plans on standing as Labour's candidate to lead the Liverpool city-region combined authority. He faces competition from Liverpool Walton MP and former councillor Steve Rotherham, who Anderson made lord mayor in 2008, and another shadow minister, Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger.