Salford campaigner forces referendum

A Prestwich campaigner for lower council tax has forced Salford Council to spend £150,000 on a referendum over whether to have an elected mayor.

Geoffrey Berg, 56, collected 10,000 signatures for a petition forcing the referendum within six months. Mr Berg, who owns commercial property in Salford, said he was using the tactic to compel the local authority to "sit up and listen" over its council tax rates, which are among the highest in Greater Manchester and, he claims, hundreds of pounds above the national average.

"In view of huge demonstrations in Tel Aviv over high taxation, perhaps the population of Salford could take the example of Israeli residents," he said. "I own property in Salford and have had a brush with ridiculous bureaucracy and the council not providing services to the people of the borough."

Salford Council leader John Merry complained that a referendum "doesn't achieve a single one of the objectives Mr Berg claims and will add to the costs of running the council".

    Last updated: 10:34am, September 9 2011