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Guildford voters reject plans for switch to elected mayor system

Voters have overwhelmingly rejected changing to the elected mayor system in Guildford, in a referendum that saw the idea defeated by 20,639 to 4,948 votes on a 24.87% turnout.

All three main political parties united against what they described as a proposed ‘political’ mayor and argued in favour of keeping the leader and cabinet system.

The referendum ballot opened last year, but secured the required 5% of voter signatures only in April.

In a debate staged by local station Eagle Radio earlier this month, the council’s Conservative leader Paul Spooner, who opposed having an elected mayor, debated with his predecessor, former Conservative councillor Stephen Mansbridge.

Cllr Spooner said: “What we currently have as a model is efficient and suits Guildford perfectly. 

“I don't believe changing will result in any significant benefits in any way, whatsoever, in terms of being able to drive the administration in Guildford. Changing will result in more cost, up to £250,000 a year.”

Mr Mansbridge told listeners that having an elected mayor would mean “everyone in the whole borough would be able to elect that person”.

Mark Smulian

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