Politicians in Reading have responded to the cancellation of local elections this year.

The local elections for Reading Borough Council (RBC) and other local authorities will now take place next year after the government postponed this year’s elections last week due to the coronavirus crisis.

RBC holds elections in three of every four years and next year was due to be the year off or 'fallow' year.

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Local party leaders told us what they thought about the elections being put on hold until May 2021.

“Decisive action” – Council leader’s view

Labour’s councillor Jason Brock, leader at RBC, said: “I think it is the right decision.

“The government have acted decisively around that.”

“Sensible decision” – The Conservative view on the delay

Councillor Jeanette Skeats, leader of the Conservative opposition at the council, said her first concern is that her team, candidates from all parties and members of the public “are all protected”.

She added: “I think it is a sensible decision to take. I don’t see it having a great affect.

“We would always put public safety first. This year will be the fallow year and the elections will take place next year.”

The Tories lost two seats at last year’s election.

“Disappointed but priority is protecting most vulnerable” – view from the Lib Dems

Lib Dem councillor Meri O’Connell said she is “disappointed” the election have been halted as the party had started running its campaign and was “looking forward to making gains in a number of council seats”.

But she said the priority “has got to be protecting the most vulnerable in our communities”.

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She added: “Knocking on doors and shaking hands with people, then asking them to all visit a community hub on the same day to share pencils, is clearly not a very sensible thing to do.

“Local politics has an enormous unseen influence on people’s day to day lives, but right now, that is overshadowed by the continuing coronavirus crisis and the worry it is causing people.

“As a party we have full confidence in the chief medical officer and his team and urge people to follow the advice about hand washing, social distancing and avoiding panic buying.

“In Reading and across the country we need to work together to get on top of this disease. We need to look out for our friends, neighbours and family.”

The Lib Dems gained one seat last year, with Cllr Ricky Duveen winning back his seat in Tilehurst.

“On course for significant gains but we are supportive” – The Green Party view

The Green Party won a seat from Labour in Redlands at last year’s election and councillor Rob White, leader of the Green group, said the party was on course for further gains.

But he added: “The health and welfare of the community absolutely must be top priority.

“So, despite the Green Party locally being on course to make significant gains in Reading in wards such as Redlands and Katesgrove, based on our candidates hard work, we are supportive of a postponement.”

“Unprecedented times” – Another year for the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC)

PCC elections have also been delayed until next year.

Anthony Stansfeld, PCC for Thames Valley, will continue in his role, with his deputy Matthew Barber also staying on.

Mr Stansfield said: “I will continue to ensure that Thames Valley Police is delivering an effective and efficient service and will continue to do this for as long as I am in this role.

“I have an MSc in Global Security which I studied at the Royal Military College of Science. It is surprisingly relevant to what is happening today.

“I am confident that the Chief Constable and the rest of the team are doing everything they can to support the communities we serve.

“These are unprecedented times and will be a test for all of us.

“Our police officers and staff do a fantastic job and I am confident they will rise to the occasion as the situation changes over the coming weeks.”