An election debate on a major broadcaster has been cancelled after the Conservative election candidate for Reading West reportedly refused to attend.

Former MP Alok Sharma, Conservative election candidate for Reading West, has been accused of dodging the debate, believed to be on Sky News.

He is standing against Meri O’Connell (Lib Dems), Rachel Eden (Labour) and Jamie Whitham (Green), three Reading councillors who were all set to debate against Mr Sharma on ‘a major broadcaster’ ahead of the December 12 general election.

Councillor Rachel Eden told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “I would really encourage Mr Sharma to take the time to answer questions and discuss issues in this election.

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“I think it is really important that the MP for Reading West is available, even more so after the election.

“We need an MP who is not afraid to answer difficult questions from constituents.”

Cllr Eden also tweeted her disappointment at the TV debate being cancelled.

Cllr Whitham added: “It’s a pity Alok Sharma is dodging the debate which should be putting the climate emergency at the heart of this election.”

Mr Sharma responded: “I will be taking part in a range of hustings, the first being the Reading Churches Husting on Sunday evening.

“Residents across the Reading West constituency will also be able to tune into the BBC Radio Berkshire husting on 3 December.

“There is a clear choice at this election and I am looking forward to setting out the positive Conservative vision for our country.”

Mr Sharma also commented on Twitter about debate attendance, in a similar tweet to Cllr Eden’s.

He said: “Extremely disappointing that the Labour candidate has not replied to the organiser of a candidates debate at Little Heath School.

“I thought Labour cared about the listening to young people – clearly not the Labour candidate in Reading West.”

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Cllr Eden said the email came in three days ago from Little Heath School and she has replied today that she will be attending.

Mr Sharma has not yet confirmed whether he will be attending Launchpad’s Question Time, which will see a different Reading West candidate questioned every week.

Cllr Eden is up first on Wednesday, November 27, with Cllr O’Connell next on December 4.

Cllr Whitham will answer Launchpad’s questions on December 11, the day before the election.