Campaigners have hit back at claims they lied over the East Reading Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) scheme.

Councillor Page, lead member for strategic environment, planning and transport, said people who claim there is wildlife in the area where the MRT is planned are ‘liars’ and accused campaigners of misleading the public.

Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) will vote first on Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) updated plans.

The scheme would provide a public transport, pedestrian and cycle route from central Reading to areas including Thames Valley Park, Woodley, Winnersh and Wokingham.

John Sharpe, from campaign group Save Our Ancient Riverside (SOAR), said: “Are we misleading the public by referring to the documents that the council has produced?

“There is no way that it is completely devoid of wildlife. We have a list of all birds in that area from a local ecologist.

“It was a coal yard but there is no part of Reading that has not been affected by human intervention. Nature is incredibly powerful at regenerating.

“Councillor Page seems to be trying to portray himself as a pantomime villain. A lot of Labour Party supporters are quite sad at his behaviour.”

WBC refused the initial application in June 2018 due to its height and scale and prominent and sensitive location.

Councillor Rob White, Reading Green Party leader, said: "Cllr Page's comments show just how out of touch the Labour Party is in east Reading.

“Reading's own ecologist and the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust both raised concerns about the impact this scheme would have on wildlife in the area.

“If Tony Page wants to find someone telling big porky pies about Labour's plan to build the road by the Thames he simply needs to look in the mirror."

A green camouflage of the structure is the only major change in the revised application.

Mr Sharpe said: “That is what we said they would do as a joke.”

766 trees are threatened by the scheme, according to a report commissioned by the council, but Cllr Page has rejected the number.

Mr Sharpe responded: “He is holding himself up to be more of an expert than the tree expert RBC employed."

The SOAR campaigner said the scheme would bypass East Reading residents and the main beneficiaries of the scheme would be people who access Reading Station.

He suggested a train station at Thames Valley Park and road pricing would be better alternatives.

Ross Jarvis, senior environmental health officer at RBC, told Mr Sharpe earlier this year that the project will have a negligible impact on air quality.

Councillor Jo Lovelock, leader of the council, said pollution at Cemetary Junction will get worse if RBC do nothing and the MRT, alongside other schemes, will help to stop pollution rising.

Save Our Ancient Riverside (SOAR) have set up a new petition to stop the scheme, which has received over 700 signatures.

Cllr Lovelock said she hoped that, over time, people will see the development as an improvement.

The council leader said the scheme would save the Horseshoe Bridge and make the area look more attractive.

She added: “If all the housing in East Berkshire went ahead without infrastructure people would be jumping up and down about that”