Petition for an Elected Mayor in Guildford turned down for a second time

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A petition calling for a referendum on whether Guildford should have a Directly Elected Mayor has been turned away by the borough council for a second time

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Campaigners first submitted a petition on May 18.

But following validation, the petition was declared invalid as it failed to reach the 5,012 signatures (5% of the electorate in the borough) needed to trigger a referendum.

Petition organisers then had the opportunity to collect and submit further signatures in a new petition which can then be combined with the original one.

The latest version was submitted in February – but it has been announced today that it too is invalid.

Guildford Borough Council says the petition, when amalgamated with the original one from summer 2015, still fails to reach the 5,012 signatures needed – having gained only 4,831 countable signatures.

A spokesperson from the council says: “A number of signatures were disregarded as they did not meet certain criteria, this can include those that were not on the register of electors or those that failed to complete all the details needed, such as first name, surname and address, or where those details were unreadable.

“The organisers will have the opportunity to collect and submit further signatures in a new petition.

“This can be amalgamated with the original one and the process restarted, valid names on the original petition will remain so, provided they do not bear a date earlier than 12 months before the most recent amalgamation.”

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Monika Juneja (pictured) is leading the campaign.

She says the second turn down does not worry her and claims nearly 7,000 signatures have been collected from Guildford it is just unfortunate so many have been disregarded because of simple errors such as the name not being written in full.

She says it still shows a huge support for a referendum: “It is a shame Councillor Spooner has not been honest about where we are with the petition.

“It is simply that it may have been the way they have written their name or they didn’t include their postcode.

“We will have to have a look into why these signatures have not been counted.

“180 signatures are all that we need to collect and I’m very hopeful that we will get that back into the council as soon as possible.”

The petition has until April to gain those last required signatures.

Monika added: “Having been on the inside of the council and seeing the bureaucracy and the lack of wanting to do something and moving Guildford to where it should be – it’s behind in so many ways.

“We are letting people down.

“This petition is very much about the people. It is the people deciding why they want this.

“We will take this forward and we will make sure the referendum is heard.”

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Former leader of Guildford Borough Council Stephen Mansbridge (pictured) is backing the petition.

He resigned from his position in October saying he could not accept changes to the way council decisions were being made.

At the time he said: “I have been passively in favour of a petition for a directly elected mayor because a successful petition would nullify any petition that attempts to weaken the council’s governance under the shroud of improved democracy.

“My view has evolved, in line with George Osborne’s direction for greater devolution, to be that we need larger entities with directly elected mayors.”

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.

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