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Cumpsty Cllr Andrew Cumpsty, the leader of Reading Borough Council, where a third of the seats are up for election on May 5 reports

For decades, Reading was a Labour town, with two Labour MPs, dozens of Labour Councillors and was until recently the only Labour run Borough in the South East of England outside of London.

Things then began to change. There has been a transformation in Reading.

All MPs in the Town are now Conservatives, with healthy majorities and as from last May, I became the first Conservative Leader of the town in a generation. Labour have lost their MPs, lost their Council Leader and lost control, literally. Rudderless and divided, with the whiff of a leadership challenge in the air, they are reduced to putting pictures of Michael Portillo on their leaflets in an attempt to scare the voters of the nasty Tories.

But this opposition politics from the 1980 Labour manual on how to be an opposition is so out of touch and redundant in the Reading of 2011.


The Conservative led Administration set the three goals of Best Service, Better Value and Civic Aspiration as our guiding principles in delivering for the Town.

Under these guiding principles, in just a few months we have delivered half a billion pounds for the complete renovation of Reading Station; delivered over 600 new apprenticeships since July 2010; extended the opening hours of our libraries; frozen Council Tax; launched the Abbey Quarter initiative; renovated of main swimming pool; launched a new and very successful cultural partnership; planted 100s new trees improving our urban landscape; built the first social housing in Reading for decades; announced plans for the biggest cycling scheme in the UK outside of London; and increased the total amount of funding to the voluntary and community sectors for the year ahead.

A whole raft of popular local initiatives delivered by a Conservative led Council.

Looking beyond the elections we will want to build on these achievements and do more. Looking to attract more jobs to the Town, especially for our younger residents. Freezing Council Tax and looking at how we can reduce it for our pensioners. Going for City status in 2012. Improving the town's roads with record new investment in repairs. Delivering benefits for the Town in Olympic year. Introducing care for the vulnerable based on individual need. And the building of new schools for the Town.

People understood the need for the Labour Party post World War Two. After election wilderness, people understood the need for New Labour. But like the rest of the country, Reading is asking the question, 'What is the point of Labour in 2011', especially when you have a Conservative led administration delivering better service, value and improved civic aspiration.

6 comments for: The battle for Reading

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