It has been announced that four Reading councillors will be stepping down ahead of this year’s local elections, with one among them being a councillor since 2004.

Councillor Gul Khan (Labour, Battle) is the longest serving councillor to retire this year, after two stints representing neighbours in West Reading from 2004-2007 and 2008 to now.

Meanwhile two councillors are stepping down after serving one term.

Both were elected in the all out council elections last year.

These retirements mean that even if no seats change at all, there will be at least four fresh faces on Reading Borough Council once the election is over.

The departures were announced by party leaders at the full council meeting on Tuesday, March 21.

Gul Khan

Reading Chronicle:

Gul Khan, pictured right, is the longest serving councillor to retire, first becoming a councillor in 2004.

He had a break between 2007-2008 when he went on the Hajj Islamic pilgrimage, returning as a councillor from 2008 onwards.

Cllr Khan also served as Mayor of Reading in 2010.

Bidding him farewell, cllr Jason Brock (Labour, Southcote), the council leader said: “He’s the first councillor I properly met when I moved to Reading, I went to a Battle branch meeting, and somehow became the chair of the branch that day.

“Cllr Khan has fulfilled many roles on this authority.

“He was of course an excellent Mayor, and is well known for his charitable nature and his community spirit.

“You all know the story of the time he drove someone who had missed her last train all the way to Cornwall, for free I might add!”

Mr Khan made that long journey in 1999.

Cllr Brock continued: “He’s always been a phenomenal supporter of colleagues, with an endless supply of Werther’s Originals in his pocket.

“I shall miss my friend greatly as I’m sure we all will.”

Amjad Tarar is hoping to replace him as a Labour representative for Battle ward, having stood in Park ward in 2021 and Redlands ward in 2022.

Harry Kretchmer 

Reading Chronicle: Harry Kretchmer, Conservative candidate for Emmer Green ward. Credit: Reading East Conservatives

Mr Kretchmer was elected as a Conservative representative for Emmer Green at the all out elections in 2022.

As a councillor, he took part in a successful campaign to get a 5G mast in front of Emmer Green Playing Fields to be rejected, which was refused by the council’s planning department and dismissed on appeal.

Cllr Clarence Mitchell (Conservative, Emmer Green), the leader of the Conservative group, said: “He’s only been a councillor for the one year but he’s been a hard-working, assiduous campaigner for Emmer Green.”

He praised Mr Kretchmer for his ‘resolute’ opposition to the 5G mast plan and called it ‘a great success.’

READ MORE: Plan for 5G mast near Caversham playing fields fails a second time

Mr Kretchmer also raised the poor state of the Reading train station tunnel between its two entrances and called for the stone plinth for the Maiwand Lion to be restored.

The train station tunnel has since been tidied, with a consultation on allowing cyclists to use it taking place in February.

The Maiwand Lion is currently undergoing a restoration project.

Brenda McGonigle

Reading Chronicle: Brenda McGonigle, Green Party candidate for Park ward. Credit: Reading Green Party

Brenda McGonigle has stepped down from the council after serving as a Green representative for Park ward for six years.

Paying tribute to her, cllr Rob White (Green, Park ), leader of the opposition said: “She was a real pleasure to work with and she made a real difference not least in defeating the East Reading Mass Rapid Transit scheme.”

Her profile on the council website has already been removed as she has stepped down as a representative prior to the end of her term.

Voters in Park ward will elect two councillors this year, with Green incumbent cllr Josh Williams being up for election and fellow candidate Sarah Magon hoping to keep the vacated seat for the Greens.

Meanwhile, the Labour party has announced Oliver Williamson and Ram Galami as its candidates for the area, with Mr Williamson running again after standing in 2022.

Nusrat Sultan 

Reading Chronicle: Nusrat Sultan, Labour candidate for Thames ward. Credit: Reading Labour

Nusrat Sultan was elected as a Labour councillor for the Thames ward in the all out elections last year.

Announcing her departure, cllr Brock said cllr Sultan has had a very challenging year.

He said: “She’s had to deal with a lot of personal challenges and indeed tragedies in her family, so we wish her all the best for the future.

“She was, of course, a dedicated community activist before she became a councillor and I’m entirely sure she will continue to be so in the future.”

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Cllr Sultan was a member of the access and disabilities working group and the adult social care, children’s services and education committee.

Labour candidate Ama Asare is hoping to hold the Thames seat for the party.