The Labour administration had hoped it would be one of the first councils in the country to hold a referendum, on 3 May.
Despite the policy and resources committee giving the referendum the go-ahead, a combination of Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green and rebel Labour councillors resulted in a 36-30 vote to scrap the plans at a full council meeting.
Council leader Lynette Gwyn Jones (Lab) attacked the opposition parties, accusing them of stifling democracy. 'By voting against proposals to hold
a May referendum on whether or not Brighton & Hove has an elected mayor, opposition councillors have shown themselves to be utterly undemocratic,' she said.
'The position is very clear. The Local Government Act 2000 means all councils must consult the public over new ways of running authorities. If there appears to be public support for an elected mayor, then the council must organise a referendum.
'We have said from the start let the people decide. Now it seems councillors in the opposition parties think it is only they who should decide. This is a disgraceful denial of basic democracy.'
Tory leader Geoffrey Theobald said he was not convinced people wanted a mayor:
'There is very little enthusiasm for an elected mayor apart from people who see themselves filling the role.
'The public consultation was minimal. It was tiny, we were not satisfied with that and we were concerned it would cause confusion at the time of the general election.'
Brighton & Hove said the council was in an unusual position because the referendum had already been agreed by the policy and resources committee.
'It is difficult to say what the way forward is. We are reassessing what the different options are,' he said.