IN these austere times you would have expected shadow chancellor Ed Balls to tighten his belt when he visited Reading today.

But the senior Labour politician splashed out 60p - soon to be the price of a solitary first class stamp - and bought a copy of the Chronicle from the Earley Express Premier newsagents in Wokingham Road, east Reading.

Mr Balls, who cheerfully chatted with staff and customers, made the surprise visit to the store during his visit to nearby Alfred Sutton Primary school to discuss with parents picking up their children there how the Westminster Coalition Government's cuts are squeezing family budgets.

One breaking news story which immediately caught his eye was our front page article headlined "Tory sues his party leaders" about Peppard ward councillor Jamie Chowdhary's shock decision to take legal action against the Conservatives.

Mr Balls joked: "What's going on with these Tories?"

For more see next week's Reading Midweek and Reading Chronicle.