The candidates vying for your votes in Abbey for the 2022 Local Elections have been announced.
This year, the entirety of the council will be elected.
Once all the votes are counted, 48 councillors will take up seats on the council, with Abbey having three representatives.
The Abbey ward, which covers the town centre, is a Labour stronghold.
Long serving councillor Tony Page, the current Lead for strategic environment, planning and transport will be defending his seat, as will fellow Labour cllrs Karen Rowland and Mohammed Ayub.
The vote will take place on Thursday, May 5.
See all the candidates seeking your votes by party below.
Tony Page said: “I am asking for your support for my re-election on this May as one of the three active local Labour councillors for the town centre.
“My pledges for the ward are to:
• Increase the availability of genuinely affordable housing for the hundreds of Abbey residents in desperate need of re-housing;
• Further protect Reading’s town centre heritage;
• Continue our Council-funded road and pavement improvements;
• Improve disabled access on our paths and footways;
• Continue to crack down on rogue private landlords;
• Protect and enhance public transport and cycling provision thereby improving Reading’s air quality;
• Plant more trees as part of our internationally-acclaimed Climate Strategy;
• Improve our open spaces, parks and play areas;
• Welcome and support the rights of refugees in Reading.
“Along with my colleagues, cllrs Ayub and Rowland, you hear from us all year round through our ‘Abbey Matters’ newsletter and our regular roving surgeries preceded by the familiar red leaflet.
“Every year hundreds of you take the opportunity to contact us about your problems or concerns about local issues. We don’t always succeed – but we ALWAYS try our best. I hope you will use your three votes to support the Abbey Team.”
Karen Rowland said: “I am honoured to be standing again for Labour where I live in Reading’s Abbey ward. Despite the advantages of living in the town centre, there are also challenges living at the heart of it all. As an EU immigrant, I immediately found commonality with our Labour party ideals, ensuring we create thriving communities that provide equal opportunity for everyone. Inequalities with quality housing, crime and litter in our town centre only mean we have more work to do.
“I have worked passionately to tackle climate change as a Lead Councillor. I am passionate about our open spaces, our natural environment and enhancing the town centre with active travel routes and greener, leafier areas. Integrally involved in planning, I know that new development can sit beautifully alongside heritage with thoughtful, accessible, positive place-making.
“I have always championed Reading’s community spirit and am committed to ensuring that “culture is open for all!” Culture is at the heart of Reading and who we are as individuals; it unites our wonderfully diverse communities together under our “Reading Together” banner.
“The town centre brings all these challenges together in extreme; precisely why I enjoy serving Abbey. I humbly ask for your vote on the 5th May.”
Mohammed Ayub said: “I am honoured to have served as a Labour Councillor in Abbey ward since 2007. Having lived in the ward for nearly 40 years, I have truly seen the town evolve over the decades.
“Over the years I have served as Chair of the Traffic Management Subcommittee, and on the Boards of Readibus and Reading Welfare Rights. I was proud to have served Reading as its Mayor in 2016.
“The Council’s drive to achieve a carbon-neutral Reading by 2030 is challenging but, I feel, within our grasp. Initiatives around sustainable transport and active travel are critical. Planting trees in the town centre can reduce carbon and lower town centre temperatures for the future. I will continue to lobby the government for initiatives to make our older homes more energy-efficient.
“Issues of affordable, quality homes are challenging in all town centres, but we will continue to put pressure on rogue landlords, and work hard to ensure that new development is right for Reading by providing quality living features and housing for our residents.
“I look forward to continuing to meet the challenges in Abbey ward and I ask again for your vote on the 5th of May.”
Simon Bazley lives in Oxfordshire and has strong Reading connections. An experienced Conservative campaigner, he has stood for Reading Borough Council several times, most notably in 2005 and 2010.
He believes in a low tax economy and said: “A Conservative-run council for Reading will mean better local services, your money being spent more wisely, more investment in the town’s transport and infrastructure and in Reading’s schools.
“The Labour administration has been in power for so long that it has become complacent and tired, taking voters for granted. I would fight for lower council tax, more robust financial controls for the council and better planning of roadworks that don’t merely add to Reading’s endemic congestion levels as they often do now.”
Stephen Goss lives in Reading.
The Conservatives have argued that Labour is letting the town down.
Their priorities if elected include protecting green spaces, ensuring every child matters by ensuring no children go hungry, improving safety by working with Thames Valley Police and implementing an effective community cohesion strategy to fight discrimination.
Jim Brennan lives in the Luscinia View apartments.
The Conservatives have accused Labour of penalising the motorist. The Tories are therefore committed to opposing any congestion charge or levy on workplace parking.
Other priorities include supporting culture and sport by supporting the transformation of Reading Gaol into an arts hub, and protecting the environment by prosecuting flytippers and scrapping the charge on having a garden waste bin.
Chris Ward said: “I moved to Reading having studied History at the University of Gloucester; in my spare time, I’m a big fan of county cricket and decent cider. You may see me out for a run by the river, too.
“Running is a great way to explore a new town. I have been blown away by the sense of community here, particularly in the centre of town. We have a strong community which deserves strong local champions, which is why I’m standing for the Council.
“Any member of any party will tell you they stand for motherhood and apple pie, but for Lib Dems, access and participation in local decision-making really matters.
“So, it matters that the Conservatives here are never seen outside election time. It matters that they don’t stand up for our communities. It matters that they are an invisible opposition to the current administration in Reading, and that nationally they’re pulling up the drawbridge for refugees while letting companies like Thames Water rake in massive profits for spewing sewage into our rivers.
“And it matters that Labour has run the council for my whole lifetime (apart from in 2010), yet it’s the last major council to settle historical equal pay claims for women – at a cost of £12m of our money. It matters that they’ve wasted another million because of incompetence over their accounts. It matters that they’ve let our air quality get so bad in Reading.
“We demand better for Abbey ward. If I’m elected, I will embody the Lib Dem tradition of working hard all year round, not just at election time. I will keep residents informed, and be their voice on the council.”
Howard Darby has lived in Reading for 43 years. He has worked as a teacher. In his spare time, Howard volunteers for the Berkshire Wildlife Trust and enjoys cycling and walking.
He would like to see a fairer, greener, more affordable town. The Reading Green Party mini manifesto for 2022 is here: https://reading.greenparty.org.uk/manifesto/