Fringe Box



Petition Organisers Try, For The Fourth Time, To Force Referendum For An Elected Mayor

Published on: 27 Apr, 2016
Updated on: 27 Apr, 2016

GBC petitionAs expected, a further tranche of signatures has been submitted to Guildford Borough Council (GBC) by the organisers of the “Elected Mayor petition”.

This is the fourth attempt to get the petition across the threshold of five per cent of the registered electorate, recently reset at 5,184.

It has not been announced how many new signatures have been submitted. In March, 4,814 signatures were found to be valid, i.e. a shortfall of 370 against the new target and the amount of new signatures are understood to exceed that number.

But the council’s validation process does not simply mean checking if sufficient of the new signatures are valid. All the previously validated signatures will also need to be re-checked to see if the signee is still a registered voter.

Cllr Paul Spooner the new leader of Guildford Borough Council.

Council leader Paul Spooner “spitting feathers”.

Signatures of anyone who has moved out of the borough in the interim will be discounted.

No councillors from any party are believed to be in support of the petition and several senior Tory councillors, erstwhile colleagues and close political allies of the former council leader, including his previous closest allies Cllr Paul Spooner and Cllr Nigel Manning, are  said to be “spitting feathers” over the continuing attempts.

Mr Mansbridge’s involvement in the petition was only revealed in October by The Guildford Dragon NEWS. Prior to that Monika Juneja had denied to the Surrey Advertiser that he was involved and refused to reveal where money to pay petition signature collectors was coming from.

Local entrepreneur Michel Harper, a long time supporter of an elected mayor system, later admitted to The Dragon that he had put up the money.

Stephen Mansbridge, who resigned as council leader and leader of the GBC Tory group today

Former council leader Stephen Mansbridge.

In a comment sent to The Dragon Mr Mansbridge, who continues to deny it was the revelations about his involvement with the petition that caused him to resign, said: “This petition has garnered eight per cent of real people, whether the council chooses to recognise them or not, who have concerned views and feelings about this serious issue, which councillors seem to wish to blanket out.

“By contrast, nine per cent was the overall turnout of the last Police and Crime Commissioner election.

“People have signed this petition from all over our borough and the broader public should be asking the question – why? The simple answer is a dislike of inertia, with which we have lived for far too long.”

Today’s (April 27) GBC press release stated: “We received another new petition on Monday 25 April 2016. We are currently validating each entry on this latest petition, along with all of the entries on the earlier petitions, against the elected register that was in force on 25 April.

“This validation must be completed by 25 May 2016. From 1 April 2016, the required number of valid signatures to trigger a referendum increased to 5,184.

“The role of a directly elected mayor is different from the current ceremonial Mayor of Guildford. A directly elected mayor would have wide ranging decision-making powers.”

In an intriguing Tweet the council leader, Paul Spooner, said: @PaulKGB
“Conservative, Lib Dem & Labour leaders at GBC united in suspicion at some of the ‘accepted’ signatories on Mayoral petition #Guildford”. However, he has failed to elaborate further.”

This evening he said: “As I haven’t seen the new petition signatures I can’t add to what I have already said. I await the verification result with interest.”

Comments from other local party leaders and the petition organisers have been invited but you don’t need to wait to have your say. Please use the Leave a Reply feature below to leave a comment.

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Responses to Petition Organisers Try, For The Fourth Time, To Force Referendum For An Elected Mayor

  1. Jeff Hills Reply

    April 28, 2016 at 11:14 am

    It seems former councillor Mansbridge is miffed that he has been sent into the political wilderness. What will it take for him to understand that not only is he not wanted he is not trusted?

    RIP an elected mayor, for the time being.

  2. James Walsh Reply

    April 29, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    What are the motives behind this?

    Mr Mansbridge talks about inertia – how much of that was a result of his leadership in the first place?

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