Councillors in Reading have clashed over the direction of the council with the Labour administration being accused of causing traffic chaos among other ‘failings’.

At a recent meeting, councillors debated the direction is heading in, with members of the opposition criticising the administration for a lack of ambition.

The Labour group was heavily criticised by councillor Simon Robinson (Conservative, Emmer Green) for changes to the road network which he argued has caused ‘traffic chaos’.

Cllr Robinson said: “In Reading we have seen so many so-called initiatives to reduce congestion on our roads, including the disastrous changes made in Caversham which were quickly averted when the sheer chaos and danger became evident.

Reading Chronicle: Traffic caused by the council's one way system initiative in Caversham which lasted for a week before being scrapped in 2020. Credit: LDRSTraffic caused by the council's one way system initiative in Caversham which lasted for a week before being scrapped in 2020. Credit: LDRS

“This wasted council money. The bus lane on the A33 which is always empty, created a significant cost. The shutting of Sidmouth Street for two way traffic, with one side for cyclists. But if you use that route regularly, you’ll notice not many cyclists use it.”

Cllr Robinson referred to a one-way system implemented in Caversham in 2020 that was scrapped one week after introduction, the £12 million A33 bus lane project, and the closure of the southbound lane of Sidmouth Street to drivers, despite 648 people objecting to the move compared to 98 who were supportive.

READ MORE: Three major changes coming to Reading's roads in 2023 that drivers should be aware of

He also said the Labour administration should acknowledge that it gets substantial funding for projects from the  government, including £19.1 million of government ‘Levelling Up’  money to deliver the Minster Quarter project and build a new central library and £15 million  for its bus service improvement plan.

However, Liz Terry (Labour, Coley) lead cllr for resources, hit back at cllr Robinson, saying the grants he referred to were for capital projects, and that government funding through revenue support grants has declined by £50 million a year since 2010.

Meanwhile, cllr Tony Page, the deputy leader, accused cllr Robinson of being in the “cars should go everywhere lobby.”

READ MORE: Warning for Reading drivers as yellow box junction enforcement begins in THIS road

Councillor Rob White (Green, Park), the leader of the opposition, accused the Labour group of not doing enough to tackle inequality, improve value for money and a ‘lack’ of a local transport plan.

The accusations were made at a full council meeting, where councillors discussed updates to its Corporate Plan 2022-25.

Cllr White said: “There are five Reading neighbourhoods that are now within the 10 most deprived in the country, this has got worse under Labour, not better.

“The Plan says ‘we strive for value for money in everything we do’ and yet the independent assessment from our external auditors is that year after year Labour have failed to deliver value for money.

“On traffic congestion, where the hell is the local transport plan? Where is the vision.

“This claims to be an ambition plan, and yet it reads like a Labour group frightened of change, frightened of the future, frightened people will vote Green!”

Cllr White referred to the local elections that take place on Thursday, May 4.

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However, he did praise elements of the plan relating to parks, waste collection, libraries, affordable housing provision and more.

Arguing for the administration, John Ennis (Labour, Southcote) lead cllr for adult social care, said: “It’s natural for the opposition to run the town down ahead of an election, but we have more ambition for older people than ever before.

“We are proud of helping 30,000 people to live independently.”

Additionally, the Corporate Plan refers to supporting independent living by providing more than 37,000 homecare hours per month.

Ultimately, the 2023/24 update to the Corporate Plan was approved at the full council meeting on Tuesday, March 21.

You can view the plan here.

All Labour and Conservative cllrs present voted for it, all Greens voted against and the Liberal Democrats abstained.