The Liberal Democrats have selected their candidate to fight for a new MP seat in an area which has been held by the Tories for more than 10 years.

Helen Belcher has been named as the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for the Reading West & Mid Berkshire MP seat, which has been created ahead of the next general election.

She was born in West Reading and grew up in Burghfield Common, but currently lives in Wiltshire and serves as a county and town councillor.

On the announcement of her candidacy, councillor Belcher (Liberal Democrats, Corsham Pickwick) OBE said: “I grew up in this constituency, so in many ways this is a homecoming for me.

“I’m delighted to have this amazing opportunity to represent this beautiful area.

“For too long people in our area have been abandoned by the Conservatives, with public services cut to the bone, threats to close our ticket offices, difficulty accessing timely healthcare, and sewage streaming into the Pang, the Kennet and the Thames.

“The people of Reading West & Mid Berkshire need a local champion who is vocal and visible, addressing the issues they care about – not more Conservative chaos, creating invisible enemies to distract from their many failures.”

READ MORE: Attempts to get third MP seat for Reading fail as political map of England is changed

Cllr Belcher’s candidacy was announced on Saturday, October 7.

The newly formed Reading West & Mid Berkshire constituency covers the lion’s share of Tilehurst, western areas of Reading Borough, Calcot, Theale and villages in West Berkshire.

The rough area of the constituency has been held by Sir Alok Sharma, the Conservative MP for Reading West for 13 years, after the general election in 2010.

Recently, Sir Alok announced that he would not be standing in the next general election, and will no longer be an MP once the next general election is called.

The Liberal Democrats have high hopes of taking the new seat, following on from success in the 2023 Local Elections, where the party toppled the Conservatives to take control of West Berkshire Council.

In the election, the Lib Dems won 13 seats, taking 12 of these from the Conservatives.

READ MORE: Elections 2023: Lib Dems take control of West Berkshire Council

Congratulating cllr Belcher on her selection, cllr Lee Dillon, the leader of West Berkshire Council (Liberal Democrats, Thatcham North East) said: “The huge Liberal Democrat victories this May were a sign that Conservative dominance of Berkshire is coming to an end.

“Helen is a fantastic candidate and with her in place, all across central and West Berkshire, we can tell this appalling Conservative Government: enough is enough.”

READ MORE: Reading to get two constituencies as map of MP seat proposals finalised

Cllr Belcher is a transgender woman and was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her service to transgender people in the 2023 New Years Honours List.

She previously ran as the parliamentary candidate for Chippenham in 2017 and 2019, but was beaten by Michelle Donelan, the Conservative MP.

The Conservatives and Labour have not selected their candidates for the Reading West & Mid Berkshire MP seat yet, but will do so prior to the next general election, set to happen no later than January 2025.