The identity of High Wycombe’s next mayor has been kept secret after a behind-closed-doors vote - despite criticism that the move reflects a “culture of secrecy” at the district council.

The town’s new mayor was officially voted in at a secret meeting on Tuesday evening – even though two fellow charter trustees revealed the only candidate for the post on social media hours earlier.

Although the news spread online, the official announcement of the new mayor will not take place until May – weeks before the mayor-making ceremony - and both the press and public were ejected from the charter trustees meeting while the official vote took place.

After visitors to the meeting were allowed back into the council chamber, town clerk Bill Reid said: “It has been on Facebook, it has been on the radio, it has been on the Bucks Free Press, I can’t stop it now but please, please, we do not disclose this detail until the town clerk makes it available sometime in May.

“The charter trustee handbook says the mayor needs to be approved presumably by a percentage of the charter trustees – that’s what it says. If you haven’t read it, then fine, it’s there.”

Current mayor, Cllr Brian Pearce, added; “I was amazed when I was driving along and I heard the whole thing being discussed on the radio – I thought what is going on?”

Cllr Julia Wassell said the information should be made public. She said: “It just smacks of masonry to me, deals done in secret rooms, is it commercially sensitive?

“I hope we will stop this culture of secrecy, get the mayor to announce his charities and then he won’t be plagued, will he. Any excuse to keep things out of the public domain.”

Cllr Pearce responded to say: “I don’t think that is the case because in a few months, he or she will be known.”

Cllr Marten Clarke said the reason the charter trustee handbook says the new mayor should be kept secret to prevent them being “plagued by all the charities you can think of”.

He said: “It gives him – or her – the time to make their decision over which charity or charities they wish to support without having themselves subjected to unnecessary and unwarranted lobbying from other charities.

“I'm quite sure those sat here who have been mayor will understand exactly why that rule is there.”