CAMPAIGNERS angry over the plans to move Crewe's war bymorial are now aiming to get a publicly elected mayor installed in Crewe and Nantwich.

Members of the Memorial Action Team (MAT) have been embroiled in a row with Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council chiefs over their participation in Crewe Carnival parade, with organisers accusing the group of planning to disrupt the family event.

But after dismissing the A-ations as 'nonsense', the group has withdrawn its application to be involved and has now shifted its focus to a campaign to have an elected mayor

MAT spokesman Frank Jones said: 'To say we would even A-sider disrupting Crewe Carnival is absolute nonsense and is typical of the dictatorial thinking which dominates this council.

'I have been going to the carnival my whole life and would never condone interrupting a family fun day for any end. Our campaign has been dignified and civilised.

'What has become painfully obvious to members of the MAT is that this council is not interested in representing the people of Crewe as 12,000 people signed petitions opposing the war memorial move andthey carried on regardless.We need change.'

The elected mayoral system, already in place in London and Stoke-on-Trent, would see the council controlled by a political leader voted in by residents.

Under current arrangements, the council vote for its own leader who wields decision-making power with the help of an executive board.

A total of 4,300 signatures - 5% of the borough's electorate - would be needed to force a full referendum on the issue.

Mr Jones said: 'We feel a strong leader who represents the people is the way forward in this borough. A leader who is answerable to the public is a leader who listens.'

Mr Jones added that if the campaign was successful he believes any decision on the war memorial's future should be suspended until a mayoral election had taken place. The council is planning to move it from Market Square to the Municipal Square.

But Cllr Peter Kent, the Labour leader of the council, said the move will have been completed well before that could happen, and questioned the connection to the war memorial campaign.

He said: 'I cannot see the relation at all to be honest. At the earliest, we could have mayoral elections in 2007, by which time the memorial will be in its new home.

'But before we get that far, MAT has to collect 4,300 signatures from registered voters in this borough. And if they are successful, we will have to raise the funds to hold a referendum, which could be as much as £2 for a household.

'Personally, I don't believe an elected mayor is a more uscratic system. It gives one person many of the powers usually held by a council as a whole.'

MAT will launch its petition on Saturday outside the Halifax bank in Victoria , Crewe.

What's your verdict? Do you want an elected mayor?

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