Leicester businessman reveals why he wants city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby to go
A businessman has revealed why he is launching a campaign to try to force a referendum on whether Leicester should scrap its elected mayor.
Callum McKeefery is to start a petition calling for a referendum on whether Leicester City Council should continue to be governed by an elected mayor or revert to the old system of a council leader and chief executive.
The 35-year-old, who has a number of internet companies and owns properties in the city centre, including a bar and nightclub, is opposed to Sir Peter Soulsby's £4 million plans to redevelop St Nicholas Place.
The mayor wants to turn the car park into a public plaza called Jubilee Square.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
A draft of the petition criticises the mayor's handling of issues including the provision of travellers sites, reducing funding for Navratri celebrations and the ongoing issue of leasing a Scout hut in Thurnby Lodge to a Muslim community group.
However Mr McKeefery said he would be rewording the initial draft petition.
"The thing that got me started is Jubilee Square," he said.
"I am against it because it will remove much-needed car parking that traders rely on and leave us with an expensive park that generates no income for the city.
"Some people may like it. I think it will be bad for businesses.
"I and others spoke against it but he decided to press ahead.
"It has now become more about the fact we were not listened to.
"I don't know a lot about the travellers camps, the Thurnby Lodge Scout hut or the Navratri funding, but it is clear that people feel like they are not been listened to.
"Loads of people will knock me for doing this but I have watched Sir Peter Soulsby at work and he just doesn't listen."
Mr McKeefery said he was "scared about taking on the mayor", but said: "I just feel people should be asked how they want the city to be run and I think a lot of people think the same way."
If Mr McKeefery, who has offices over looking the area, gets 12,000 names – five per cent of the electorate – on the petition, it will trigger a referendum on the mayoral system.
"I hope I can do it," he said.
"What I really want is a say, which we haven't had.
"If we get a referendum and the answer is 'Yes, let's keep the mayor', then fine, but at least ask us the question.
Mr McKeeferey has sought help from city's only Conservative councillor, Ross Grant, who said there should have been a referendum before the council switched to the mayoral system in May last year.
Sir Peter said: "I am surprised the Conservatives would get behind this because they know that as well as it costing £250,000 to have a referendum, there would be the additional £250,000 expense of re-employing a chief executive and an army of officers to support the council leader.
"I will wait and see if the petition gets the 12,000. If it does, I will argue that the mayoral system is the right one for the city."
However, Mr McKeefery said: "The cost of holding a referendum is nothing compared to what the mayor has decided to spend on Jubilee Square."
He is seeking help to run his campaign.
He can be written to care of LIquid New Media, at 29, St Nicholas Place, Leicester LE1 4LD.