The campaign is led by David Scott, a former Liberal Democrat local official, who said he left the party in protest at a 65% increase in councillors' allowances. But leader Chris Harris (Lib Dem) disputed this figure and said his party would oppose an elected mayor because it would hand too much power to one person.
Torbay was rated 'poor' by the Audit Commission in December 2002, but has since risen to 'weak'. It had its council tax rise capped by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (LGC, 16 July).
Mr Scott said: 'Torbay is too small to be a unitary council, but there is no way of changing its status back, therefore a mayor is the only solution.'
Mr Harris accused Mr Scott of 'being perverse if he is talking about saving money'.
'As leader, I get£27,000 and elected mayors are on about£45,000, and [Mr Scott] says he wants to keep a cabinet as well. The referendum alone would cost£60,000.'