The leader of Reading Borough Council is stepping down from the position after five years at the helm.

Jason Brock (Labour, Southcote) became the council leader in 2019, taking over the reins from cllr Jo Lovelock (Labour, Norcot).

Now, cllr Brock has announced that he will be stepping down from the role and as a councillor altogether.

In his farewell, cllr Brock said: “It has been my huge honour and privilege to lead the council in a town as wonderful as Reading, and to represent residents of Southcote.

“After a period of five years at the helm, however, this is the appropriate time to step aside and allow colleagues the opportunity to build on everything we have achieved together over the period.

“When I was fortunate enough to be selected as leader in 2019, I privately maintained that roughly five years was probably the right amount of time, and that is something family and close friends were quick to remind me of as I considered the decision.

“I look back with immense pride on some of our achievements.

“It is also fair to say there have been some extremely challenging periods for Reading over the period and now feels like the right time for me to step aside, both for a much-needed rest and for a change in personal direction.”

A year after taking the helm, the coronavirus pandemic hit and Libyan asylum seeker Saadallah murdered three men and attacked others at Forbury Gardens.

Cllr Brock continued: “Reading’s response to the vast difficulties at the height of the pandemic, and to the attacks at Forbury Gardens in 2020, will always be at the forefront of my mind as an example of how a community can come together to find strength in moments of enormous adversity.

“To this day, I remain humbled at the town’s response.

“The role of council leader afforded me the privilege of meeting and collaborating with the many communities, neighbourhoods, organisations, and individuals who make up the fabric of Reading.

“Together, they all help maintain a special sense of community, which is rare quality in a town that also wears its status as an economic giant so comfortably.

“At the risk of repeating myself, Reading remains a ‘little big town’, which is what truly sets it apart from others.”

The outgoing leader added: “I have been incredibly lucky to work with so many exemplary councillors, and especially with two dedicated deputy leaders who, in different ways, have given their lives to public service.

“I remain proud that our committee-based system of Council governance sets us apart from others and means that debate and scrutiny – and sometimes even consensus with the opposition – is at the heart of our decision-making.

“And while the economic climate and the cost-of-living continues to widen existing inequalities in our society, the Council’s direction of travel remains helping Reading to realise its potential while ensuring that everyone who lives and works here can share in the benefits of its success.”

A new Labour group leader on the council will be elected at a party annual general meeting after the May election, with the council selected a new leader added

Finally, cllr Brock said:  “I am confident that under new stewardship the town will continue to go from strength to strength.”