Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors have united to oppose the creation of an elected mayor in Guildford, after a referendum was called backed by two controversial former councillors.
The unusual alliance of the three main parties - which together hold all but three council seats - has come ahead of the 13 October poll, which the council has said will cost it £130,000 to hold.
A petition to call a referendum was launched in May 2015 and in April eventually passed the threshold of signatures from 5% of voters.
Former council leader Stephen Mansbridge (Con) took the unusual step of asking Surrey University Students’ Union to help gather signatures. He resigned as a councillor last October, citing opposition to the introduction of the committee system.
The mayoral campaign has also been supported by Mr Mansbridge’s business partner, former councillor Monika Juneja (Con), who in June 2015 was convicted of forgery, obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception and wilfully pretending to be a barrister.
A leaflet to residents from the three main parties said: “The cost to Guildford residents of a political mayor will be more than £250,000 a year. Your money will be spent on mayoral staff and jobs for their sidekicks. This money should go on better services for local people, not be wasted on political mayors.”
It added: “A political mayor will concentrate power into one individual and their vested interests.”
Mayoral campaign leader Michel Harper told a local newspaper: “This gives people the opportunity to choose who dictates policy and leads them, rather than having committees that end up being fudged between political parties trying to reach a compromise.”