There is to be a referendum in Salford next month on having a directly elected Mayor. This follows a petition with 9,062 valid signatures, over 5% of the electorate, calling for one. If the referendum approves the proposal then an election for a directly elected Mayor will follow in May.
The driving force behind the campaign is Geoffrey Berg. He is a member of the English Democrats and has put out a leaflet which points out the high level of Council Tax. It suggests changing the system would provide a lower Council Tax. Would it? In Doncaster the English Democrats candidate Peter Davis was elected but his pledge to cut the Council Tax has not materialised – partly because there were enough Labour councillors to thwart it.
Also there is a complication as Mr Berg has a dispute with the Council over the condition of an empty shop he owns. He says no resident has complained about it yet "the Council want it repainted another colour," The council claim it is an eyesore.
What I suspect people most people in Salford want, even those who are Labour supporters, is lower Council Tax. That is why so many of them signed Mr Berg's petition. At the moment the Government allows a referendum to veto excessive Council Tax increases. But what about areas such as Salford where the Band D Council Tax is £1,523.29? Shouldn't there be an opportunity for a referendum on reducing the Council Tax where residents feel it is already excessive?