The Government's announcement of a referendum on whether Thurrock should have an elected mayor or not has been welcomed by councillors who voted in favour of the scheme in the summer.

Both John Kent and Tim McMahon - two of the five councillors who backed a mayor-and-cabinet structure - said they were "delighted" by the news.

They plan to set up a non-political Thurrock First organisation as soon as possible to start campaigning for a mayoral victory in the refendum, which would be likely to take place in mid-October.

"We're not campaigning to be mayor, but for the borough to have a mayor," said Coun Kent on Wednesday.

"We want everybody who thinks an executive mayor is the right way for Thurrock to go to join us, regardless of which political party they belong to, or if they are not a member of a party.

"It is imperative that this is a cross-party campaign."

Coun Kent said he wanted to thank everybody who had written to the Secretary of State asking him to scutinise the council's decision.

Published Thursday, March 21, 2002