Fraud charges councillor Monika Juneja creates petition calling for referendum on having elected Guildford mayor

getSURREY

Students were collecting signatures for the petition outside an election polling station on Thursday morning

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Monika Juneja

A Guildford borough councillor who is due to stand trial on fraud charges has created a petition calling for a change in the way the local authority is run.

Signatures were being collected for the petition – set up by Monika Juneja – on Thursday morning outside St John’s Church in Stoke Road, which is acting as a polling station for the general and local elections.

Ms Juneja, who is listed as the petition organiser, is asking for a referendum on “whether the council should be run in a different way, by a mayor who is elected by voters for the area which the council serves”.

Under the existing council set-up she is the elected representative for Burpham, but has not stood for re-election.

Ms Juneja has pleaded not guilty to three counts of forgery, one of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, three counts of fraud and one of willfully pretending to be a barrister.

She is accused of lying about her qualifications and posing as a barrister, and a trial is expected to begin at the Old Bailey in London next Monday (May 11).

Ms Juneja was not collecting petition signatures in person outside St John’s church, but had hired two students to do so. She did not wish to comment when contacted by Get Surrey.

Guildford Borough Council recently ended a lengthy review into whether it should alter the way it is run, from an executive to a committee system.

The change was not recommended, however it has been suggested that the council could move to a hybrid system of decision-making, with the previous structure remaining in place alongside two additional advisory boards and a singular overview and scrutiny committee, as opposed to multiple committees.

The recommendation is due to be considered after the elections.

Under a mayoral system, councils have a directly-elected executive mayor with decision-making powers. The mayor appoints a cabinet made up of other councillors.

These councils must have one or more overview and scrutiny committees, which are made up of councillors from all political parties.