There are now three fresh faces on Reading Borough Council – and a couple of returning ones – following the 2024 local elections.

Reading Borough Council’s local election night saw the ruling Labour Party maintain a stable number of 32 councillors, dramatically picking up a seat in Emmer Green but losing a seat they were defending to the Green Party in Katesgrove.

Kate Nikulina, the winner of the contest in Katesgrove, said: “I feel overwhelmed, but very excited.

“I’m looking forward to putting in hard work for the residents of Katesgrove, and holding the Labour administration to account as a member of the opposition.”

Katesgrove was left vacant after Labour councillor Liam Challenger, who represented the area since 2019 stood down.

Labour fared better north of the river, in areas which have traditionally been Conservative strongholds.

Jenny McGrother, the Labour candidate for Caversham Heights, was able to hold onto the seat vacated by Sue Kitchingham, who dramatically won a seat in the area during the all-out elections in 2022.

Newly elected councillor McGrother said: “I’m standing on the shoulders of giants because Sue Kitchingham, she’s a very popular local person, she’s well known and well respected, so I’ve got a lot to live up to.

“It’s kind of  nice to be coming along after her with her mentorship, she knows the area so well.”

She added that her election was a nice ‘passing of the torch moment’.

Former councillor Paul Carnell, Conservative, was unable to regain the seat newly created in the 2022 elections. While he was able to stay as a councillor in 2022, he lost to Labour’s Sam Juthani in 2023 and was routed by Labour this time as well.

The Conservatives had more misery as Simon Robinson for Emmer Green, a councillor for 10 years, lost his seat to Daya Pal Singh, the Labour candidate who had served as a councillor for 12 years for Kentwood.

Mr Pal Singh said: “I feel very happy. I stood down from Kentwood due to health reasons, but the Labour Party gave me an opportunity there.

“I thought that I could take a risk there.”

He was not the only returning face on the council, as David Stevens returned to the council under a Labour banner in Abbey ward, taking over from councillor Tony Page, the mayor of Reading and a councillor for 51 years.

Mr Stevens crossed the floor from the Conservatives to Labour in 2022, but lost when standing for Labour in Kentwood in that year’s elections.

He said  he had made ‘very good friends’ with Labour members, and that councillors in Abbey ward have been ‘incredibly supportive’.

Another fresh face was Mamuna Naz, who was elected as a councillor for Norcot. Mrs Naz said: “First of all, I would like to thank and am very grateful to all the residents of Norcot who elected me to represent them, I will work very hard with my colleagues to tackle the issues and the problems residents are facing.”

Meanwhile, Southcote will be getting a new representative, after Reading Borough Council leader Jason Brock announced he would be stepping down. Incumbent Labour councillor Graeme Hoskin, who has represented Norcot in 2015, will now represent Southcote.