LIBERAL Democrats have accused Greater Manchester transport chiefs of refusing to engage with opposition councillors over how the region's buses, trams and trains can operate after lockdown.

Senior figures have questions over how subsidised bus services can be maintained - and how social distancing can be observed while encouraging passengers back on to services.

But Lib Dem chiefs claim they have been frozen out of any scrutiny arrangements from anyone outside Mayor Andy Burnham's Labour group.

The clash has emerged as Transport for Greater Manchester announce a £5m fund to support cycling and walking initiatives during the coronavirus crisis.

John Leech, Manchester Lib Dem leader has called on Cllr Mark Aldred, chairman of the Greater Manchester Transport Committee (GMTC), to change tack.

He said: "Everyone is under a lot of strain at the moment but the lack of transparency and communication from the chair of GMTC with other Transport Committee members and public transport operators has been unacceptable.

"Transport has been one of the most affected areas as a result of the lockdown and the reintroduction needs to be a cross-party, collaborative plan with input from across the region.

"But Cllr Aldred is not learning lessons from last month's mess and is deliberately keeping other transport committee members in the dark to avoid scrutiny."

Cllr Howard Sykes, Oldham Lib Dem leader, added: "GMTC must get a grip of the crisis by allowing and inviting transparency and constructive scrutiny.

"Members from all political parties on the committee must be involved in tackling this crisis to ensure the very best plans are put forward for our region."

The party has also raised highlighted concerns from bus operators over promised funding, bus franchising and how the cycling and walking support pledged is being funded.

Mr Burnham, launching the new cycling and walking funding, said: "Peoples’ travel behaviour across our city region has transformed during lockdown.

"As more people turn to walking and cycling, we want that to continue as we move into life beyond lockdown.

"That’s why we’ve proposed measures, backed by up to £5m of funding, to create space which allows people to continue making safe, sustainable journeys."