PEOPLE are being 'duped' into signing a petition for an elected mayor in Crewe and Nantwich, says a council leader.
Memorial Action Team (MAT) campaigners, angry at plans to move Crewe's war memorial, are aiming to collect 4,300 signatures of electors to force a referendum.
But Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council's Labour leader Peter Kent is accusing them of conducting a single-issue campaign which is misleading voters by suggesting the move can still be halted.
He said: 'People who have signed the petition have been duped. Even though I don't agree with them, I under-stand the views of the protesters but they will not be popular if they insist on wasting council time and money.
'If they reach their target number of signatures, it will cost the Council Tax-payers at least £100,000.
'Any subsequent election will have a further cost and will achieve nothing, because by that time the war memorial will have been moved.' Cllr Kent added that if any of the 2,000 residents who have signed the petition so far wanted their name removed, they can write to the elections officer at Crewe's Municipal Buildings in Earle Street.
Council officials say the memorial will be moved to the Municipal Square early next year but the earliest a mayoral election could be held is October 2006 - assuming a referendum next March opts for a directly elected mayor.
MAT spokesman Frank Jones said: 'We just feel we have to try to do something and, as far as costs go, I know for a fact that the councillors who failed to listen to public opinion on the memorial were paid more than £250,000 in allowances last year.
'People know that this is not a single-issue campaign. They are unhappy with the council for all sorts of reasons.'