Merton must have a Tory mayor because Wimbledon residents pay more tax, a Conservative councillor has claimed.

A Mayoral election in the civic centre last night threatens to determine the balance of power within the borough, prompting Conservative Councillor Rod Scott’s controversial comments.

The new Mayor will have the casting vote over all matters that come before the full council and with no political party in overall control of Merton, the largely ceremonial position has become highly politicised.

In a letter sent to the Wimbledon Guardian, Coun Scott said: “Wimbledon households contribute the greater part of council tax paid in Merton borough. In mayoral terms, this is taxation without representation.”

The borough’s Labour leader, Stephan Alambritis branded Coun Scott’s comments as “appalling” while Independent Councillor Peter Southgate accused the Conservatives of launching “an opportunist attempt to grab outright control of the council”.

A row broke out after Merton Park’s Independent councillors pledged to back a Labour mayoral candidate which would quash a vote in March declaring Councillor Gilli Lewis-Lavender as the mayor-elect.

Coun Scott said: “Gilli is a great person who has done a lot for the community and deserves to be mayor. Since 1990 we have had a Labour mayor apart from on one occasion, and almost all of them have been from Mitcham.

“I think it’s morally right that Wimbledon should be able to produce a mayor and that should be Conservative because we got upwards of 40 per cent of the vote in the last election while Labour got something like 31 per cent.”

He added: “Councillor Southgate is supporting the Labour party where most of the people in his Merton Park ward have voted Conservative.”

But the Merton Park Independent councillors have pledged to support a Labour candidate in a bid to ensure that no single party takes control of the borough.

Coun Southgate said: “With the casting vote of the Mayor goes political control of the council, taking advantage of one absence on the Labour benches to nominate Gilli Lewis-Lavender as mayor-elect was an opportunist attempt to grab outright control of this council for the Conservatives.

“That was not what the electorate voted for in 2006 when they returned a hung council. Councillor Scott will just have to be patient and wait on the verdict of the electorate a year from now.”

Coun Alambritis added: “I’m absolutely appalled. It’s a victorian-esque approach and the position of Mayor should not be politicised like this.

“It’s incredibly sad that a councillor should write a letter like this over the election of a mayor - an issue which should be dignified and respected.

He added: “Where the mayor has a casting vote it is up to the Independents to see that the council is put in its place and we think they have gone about it in the right way.”