A councillor has called for a local MP to spend time ‘standing up for Reading West’ rather than coaching Boris Johnson.

Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, coached the potential future Prime Minister ahead of last night’s (Tuesday, July 9) Tory leadership debate with Jeremy Hunt, according to national reports.

Councillor Rachel Eden hit out at his work in the constituency, highlighting failure to get government funding for accessibility improvements at train stations Tilehurst and Reading West.

She said: “It is time for the government to step up. We are seeing money thrown on wasteful pledges to appeal to a small selectorate at the moment.

“Rather than coaching Boris Johnson in how to debate Jeremy Hunt, I think it would be really great to see our local MP actually standing up for Reading West for once – both Reading West and Tilehurst Station.”

A petition for Network Rail to install a lift at Tilehurst Station, started by Kentwood ward councillor Daya Pal Singh last year, received more than 1,000 signatures and support from Mr Sharma.

Cllr Eden added: “Unfortunately, despite getting a lot of support initially from Network Rail and the Conservative MP jumping all over the campaign, we ended up with nothing being delivered by central government.

“No funding whatsoever came through as a result of that. It is time for the government to set up.”

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Seventy-three stations were chosen for Access for All funding in April – a government scheme aimed at improving accessibility at railway stations in the UK.

Theale, in West Berkshire, is in Mr Sharma's constituency and was chosen as one of the successful stations and will receive £4 million funding each from the government and Network Rail.

Reading West Station was awarded £3.1m of Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership funding earlier this year but this did not include any funds to improve accessibility.

Currently, the station is inaccessible to people in wheelchairs and very difficult for mothers with pushchairs.

Councillor Chris Maskell said: “The customer experience is dire.

“‘In order to use Reading West Station you need to be able bodied.

“That is not good news in the 21st century. Alok Sharma should be getting a hold of the issue.”

Network Rail said the station cannot be made fully accessible until the platforms are widened at a cost of around £13m and so this has been made a future phase of the project.

Alok Sharma met with Network Rail chiefs last week to discuss disability access issues at stations and said he is awaiting ‘detailed feedback’.

He tweeted last night: “Mr Johnson has just shown very clearly in the ITV debate why he is absolutely the right person to the lead the Conservatives and the UK as our next PM.”