THE LIB Dems' slate of candidates to fight next month's crucial local election in Reading have been revealed, and the party is fielding seven candidates under 30 hoping to reach out to younger voters.

They hope their campaign to increase voter registration in the university areas of Reading will net some student votes.

But veteran Lib Dem leader Cllr Bob Green is stepping down after 13 years on the council, and will not have to face the increasing Tory advance in Peppard ward.

The party is instead fielding former councillor Annette Hendry, who will have a tough fight holding the seat where Cllr Richard Willis last year beat his Lib Dem opponent by nearly 500 votes.

Political blogger and satirist Warren Swaine (of 'muckspReading' fame) will take on Labour council leader David Sutton in Katesgrove, hoping to repeat the success there last year of Lib Dem parliamentary challenger Cllr Gareth Epps.

There will be a close fight in Redlands ward, where the Lib Dems hold two of the three seats. Keen cyclist Glenn Goodall, who recently completed a PhD at Reading University, hopes to join Cllrs Daisy Benson and Kirsty Bayes on the council.

Cllr Peter Beard, who has been on the council for 16 years off and on since 1974, should easily retain his seat in Lib Dem stronghold Tilehurst.

Last year, 19-year-old Mark Mills made headlines as the youngest-ever candidate to stand for Reading Borough Council. This year, the former Bulmershe School and Henley College student will fight Norcot ward.

Cllr Epps said: "Since my election in Katesgrove last year, I've been struck by how residents say they value the positive, proactive approach Liberal Democrats take to tackling local issues. This bright and energetic team of candidates present an opportunity for real change - both in local neighbourhoods and across Reading as a whole."

The election is expected to leave Reading looking very divided, with solid Tory areas north of the Thames and in parts of the south east of the town, Labour holding out in the centre and south, and patches of Lib Dem dominance in the far west of Reading and some eastern wards around the university.

The candidates in full -

Abbey: Ben Mathis

Battle: Andrew Parsons

Caversham: Chris Burden

Church: Karl Hobley

Katesgrove: Warren Swaine

Kentwood: Matt Platts

Mapledurham: Michael Eggleton

Minster: Michael Taylor

Norcot: Mark Mills

Park: Neal Brown

Peppard: Annette Hendry

Redlands: Glenn Goodall

Southcote: Guy Penman

Thames: Pauline Arthur

Tilehurst: Peter Beard

Whitley: Chris Brown


VETERAN Lib Dem leader Bob Green is to step down from Reading Borough Council after 13 years.

It has been an open secret in Reading political circles for months, but Cllr Green confirmed this week he would not stand again in Peppard ward on May 1.

Cllr Green (pictured), who was Mayor of Reading in 2000/01 and was a founder member of Caversham Theatre, said: "It's been a great privilege to serve on the council for 13 years, and to lead the Liberal Democrat group.

"But the real rewards for me always came as a ward councillor, and what I take the most pleasure from over those years are the large number of times I have been able to help people in my ward, and help them to improve their lives."

At Tuesday's full council meeting, Cllr Green's last, councillors from across the political spectrum praised his dedication and called him "a true gentleman".