HUNDREDS of people have joined a campaign to get an elected mayor for Castle Point.

Canvey resident Colin Letchford is carrying out a petition and needs 3,400 residents – 5 per cent of the borough – to sign up and trigger a referendum.

So far, he has collected 600 signatures.

The campaign has been sparked by the fury surrounding an ongoing row about the closure of a Canvey seafront paddling pool.

Mr Letchford is furious the council’s eight-member Tory cabinet decided to close the tidal pool, near to the Concorde Cafe, without consultation with residents or other councillors.

He says the current political set-up simply doesn’t work, especially on Canvey.

There are 24 mainland seats, where residents tend to vote Tory, and just 17 seats on the island, all but two of which are held by the Canvey Island Independent Party.

Mr Letchford, 62, of Maurice Road, Canvey, says a directly elected mayor, who would have a role like Boris Johnson in London, would be an improvement.

He said: “We are fed up with the way Castle Point Council treats us, especially on Canvey. An elected mayor would have to take notice or risk being booted out by the voters.

“I can’t stop people signing the petition.”

In 2007, residents were ballotted on whether they would prefer a cabinet and council leader, or a cabinet and mayor. Only 74 replies were received, with 41 in favour of the cabinet and leader system. It was therefore introduced in early 2008.

Elected mayors may choose their cabinet and then decide how much power they want to share with other members, but the buck ultimately stops with them.

Anyone interested in signing the petition can e-mail Mr Letchford at