Three Reading councillors have announced they will be stepping down ahead of this year’s local elections, with one having served for 30 years and another triggering a by-election.

Labour councillor Tony Jones has as a councillor in Reading since 1984, with a few breaks, totting up three decades of service and is currently lead member for Adult Social Care.

Tory councillor Clare Grashoff will step down from her position as she plans to start teaching at a local authority-maintained school in Reading Borough and cannot be a Reading Borough Council (RBC) member at the same time.

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She has been a Peppard ward councillor since 2015 and her decision means there will be a by-election in Peppard.

Another Labour councillor stepping down, Cllr Emmett McKenna is chair of the Planning Applications committee and has been a councillor since 2016.

Leader of the council Jason Brock announced his colleagues Cllr McKenna and Cllr Jones would be leaving the council at last night’s (Tuesday, March 24) Full Council meeting.

He praised Cllr McKenna’s attention to detail in his roles on the Planning Applications and Audit & Governance committees and said “life will be quieter and more dull” without Cllr Jones, who has held a catalogue of roles at the council.

The local elections will take place this year on May 6, with a third of councillor positions up for grabs.

Cllr Jones, first elected in 1984 when the local authority was Berkshire County Council, highlighted some of his achievements in a goodbye speech.

Labour councillor Tony Jones, who as twice elected mayor and most recently lead member for Adult Social Care

Labour councillor Tony Jones, who as twice elected mayor and most recently lead member for Adult Social Care

These include:

  • Helping to appoint an AIDS Liaison Officer, one of the first in the country, in the 80s
  • In his time as the Chair of Housing, Reading becoming a top rated housing authority
  • He led the Empty Homes Strategy, which opened up over 500 private sector properties across the town, and was heralded by national government as a ground breaking initiative

And he added: “As lead member for Adult Social Care I am so glad that we have posted a transformation plan for the future.

“This most recently introduced programme will see a multi-million pound investment in new, more accessible and conveniently located day services and modern residential care facilities. A long overdue investment in people and places.”

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He also joked he had turned the heating off to shorten Licensing meetings when he was chair of the committee.

Cllr Grashoff’s announcement came as more of a surprise to councillors at the meeting, with mayor and fellow Conservative councillor David Stevens not expecting her to announce her resignation at this meeting.

Councillor Clare Grashoff

Councillor Clare Grashoff

She said: “I have been doing a PGCE and I will be becoming a teacher and I will, therefore, hopefully be looking for a job in Reading which will mean I cannot be a councillor at the same time if I’m in a local authority-maintained school.

“It’s been an absolute privilege to work with everybody and I have had the most amazing experience.”

Her resignation will trigger a by-election, as her Peppard ward colleague councillor Jane Stanford-Beale has to re-stand for election this year.

This means two new Peppard councillors will be elected this year.

Cllr Stevens also revealed Cllr Stanford-Beale as one of just 22 winners of a Census 2021 Purple Plaque, for her significant contribution to the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cllr Stanford-Beale is Autism Berkshire’s chief executive officer.