The local leader of the Conservatives has accused Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer of painting Reading ‘in the worst possible light’ in a recent visit.

Sir Keir visited the Dee Caf Community Cafe in Spey Road, Tilehurst as part of a ‘towns tour’ trip around the country.

At the visit, which was attended by councillors, members of the public and news editors, Sir Keir said that the Conservatives had failed to tackle anti-social behaviour and that towns would be ‘taken back from yobs’.

But the local leader of the Conservatives has hit back at Sir Keir, accusing him of a ‘ridiculous’ portrayal of Reading.

Clarence Mitchell, the Conservative Group Leader on Reading Borough Council, also took a jab at Sir Keir over its supposed outside hopes of taking the new Reading West and Mid Berkshire constituency, which the community cafe is located within.

Reading Chronicle: Councillor Clarence Mitchell, Conservative representative for Emmer Green ward, at the 2022 local election count. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting ServiceCouncillor Clarence Mitchell, Conservative representative for Emmer Green ward, at the 2022 local election count. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting Service

Cllr Mitchell (Conservative, Emmer Green) said: “For Sir Keir Starmer to descend on Reading and present a completely distorted image of the town, and then blame the Conservatives, is at best utterly ill-informed and at worst, desperate politicking in a new seat that Labour know, and have already effectively admitted, that they have no chance of winning.

“Reading’s Conservative councillors take anti-social behaviour very seriously wherever it rears its ugly head and we will always support our residents who suffer from it but, if Sir Keir’s ridiculous portrayal of Reading somehow being in the grip of yobs is in any way based in reality, has no one told him that Reading actually has had a Labour administration for the best part of three decades which should have been dealing with it?”

Fellow cllr Raj Singh (Conservative, Kentwood) has recently campaigned to get flytipping removed in Lyndhurst Road and Oxford Road.

READ MORE: Raj Singh calls on council to take action over 'noxious' waste in West Reading

Cllr Mitchell continued: “And on the very day that ONS figures showed that, excluding London, the national trend for offences involving knives or sharp instruments is actually slightly declining – as the Home Secretary rightly pointed out – shouldn’t Sir Keir also be directing his comments to the Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, whose dire record shows a huge increase in the capital’s level of knife crime that skews the figures for the rest of the country?

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“Reading remains a wonderful town which is largely safe and Labour are now apparently so desperate that they think they have to paint Reading in the worst possible light to have any chance at all in the new seat of Reading West & Mid-Berkshire come the General Election.

“Instead of scaremongering, Reading’s Conservatives and the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley will be continuing to do all within their power to keep our residents safe despite Sir Keir’s false claims.”

The Labour leader visited Reading on Friday, January 26.

The next general election is expected to take place this year.