A second submission of a petition to bring in an elected mayor for Guildford is ‘imminent’, according to former councillor Monika Juneja.
Last year, Ms Juneja’s petition requesting a referendum on whether ‘the council should be run in a different way by a mayor who is elected by the voters for the area which the council serves’ was rejected by the council.
Ms Juneja, who was handed a 14-month jail sentence in June last year, suspended for two years, after admitting charges of forgery, obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception and wilfully pretending to be a barrister, submitted the petition with 5,116 signatures.
The council could only verify 3,570 of these. A petition with more than 5,012 valid signatures would spark a referendum on the issue.
The former planning lead at Guildford Borough Council said the rejected signatures were mainly because people had not written their name out in full.
“There is a movement already and that petition is going in and it will be imminent,” Ms Juneja said.
“We have people volunteering, have people working for us.
“The petition is not a vindictive thing. It is about genuinely a change we need in this borough.”
Ms Juneja would not disclose details of the involvement of former council leader and friend Stephen Mansbridge, although he last year approached the University of Surrey’s students’ union to back the petition.
She had previously ruled out his involvement.
“I think the elected mayor provides stability for four years,” said Ms Juneja. “It allows you, whoever that person is, to not play party politics but get on with the job in hand.”
She admitted that she thought another reason the petition was important was that if it was successfully submitted, there could not be another petition asking for a change in the way the borough council is run for 10 years, such as a change to a committee system.
Ms Juneja is also critical of the new executive advisory boards, introduced before Mr Mansbridge’s resignation, saying councillors should be asking scrutiny questions without the need for a new committee.
“Everyone knows I have a lot of time and respect for Stephen,” Ms Juneja said. “I have a lot of respect for what he did for me in court. I think he is a born leader.
“If Stephen wants to stand and he didn’t have a manifesto I wanted, I wouldn’t vote for him.”
Ms Juneja did not rule out returning to a council under a new elected mayor but said that if she did, it would only be under an independent candidate.