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Referendum for Elected Mayor Petition – Mystery Remains Over Funding

Published on: 24 Jul, 2015
Updated on: 28 Jul, 2015

Petition 2Questions about the funding of a political petition persist this evening (Jul 24) after Mustie Smith, president of the Students’ Union at the University of Surrey confirmed that the union was not the financial sponsor.

The petition is being raised to make Guildford Borough Council (GBC) hold a referendum on whether Guildford should have an elected mayor.

Mr Smith said: “We continue to support the proposal to have a referendum for an elected mayor but the union could not afford to fund the petition.”

A University of Surrey spokesperson has already said that the university has: “…had no involvement in the Mayoral petition,” while former councillor Monika Juneja, the petition organiser, refuses to tell The Guildford Dragon NEWS how it has been funded.

The advert for students to collect signatures and earn £1 a time plus £5 for each extra collector recruited.

The advert that was placed on the students’ union website for students to collect signatures and earn £1 a time, plus £5 for each extra collector they recruited. Click on the image to enlarge.

Ms Juneja advertised in May through the students union website for students to collect signatures, offering them £1 for every signature collected, plus bonuses for recruiting extra collectors.

The petition was presented to GBC last month (June) but was rejected when only 3,570 of the collected signatures could be validated, almost 1,500 short of the required 5,012, which represents 5% of the borough’s electorate.

Nonetheless, if students were paid out before the council validation process it is believed that the petition is already likely to have cost £5,000. Ms Juneja has already faced, recently, expensive costs for a top criminal barrister to represent her at her court case in May.

The petition signatures that have been verified by GBC can still be re-used as part of a new petition with the same objective and it has been reported that further signatures are being collected.

Tom Harland, the general manager at the White Lyon & Dragon pub/Thai restaurant, confirmed today that petitioners had asked permission to collect signatures from his customers earlier this week on Tuesday, July 21. But he denied reports that he had asked the collectors to leave because their persistence made some customers uncomfortable.

Cllr Bob McShee (Con, Worplesdon), who has already publicly questioned the arrangements for the petition, said this evening: “There are still doubts about the way this petition is being raised. I was approached by a Worplesdon resident who complained of being harassed in the White Lyon & Dragon when she was asked to sign.”

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Responses to Referendum for Elected Mayor Petition – Mystery Remains Over Funding

  1. Dave Middleton Reply

    July 25, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    I for one find the whole business of people being paid per signature for this petition rather suspect.

    While some collectors will have integrity and only collect genuine signatures, there might be some who, at a pound a signature, would collect them from people ineligible to be counted, as appears to have happened in the original petition, or even be tempted to fake signatures.

    Also, why should students “have more of a say in Guildford”, as stated in the recruiting advert, when the vast majority of them are just passing through, while they get their degree? They only live in the town for a few years before moving on.

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