A CAMPAIGN to build a third bridge over the River Thames in Reading has been given a boost by the chair of the Labour Party.

There have been calls to add an extra bridge from Thames Valley Park in Earley to the junction of Henley Road for years with campaigners saying it would ease traffic and congestion and improve air quality.

Visiting Reading today as part of her general election campaigning was Annalise Dodds, chair of the Labour Party, and candidate for the Oxford East seat.

Speaking to the LDRS, she was questioned over whether she would work closely with Matt Rodda, the Labour candidate for Reading Central, Reading Borough Council and Oxfordshire councils to push for a third Thames bridge if elected.

Mrs Dodds answered: “I know Matt Rodda has always been keen to be a voice for his constituents, and he has done a very good job on that, particularly on transport issues but many others as well.

“I know he’s keen to ensure that there is better connectivity, of course, it’s got to make environmental sense too, that’s something very important for him.

“I know he’s been trying to have those conversations with different bodies to make sure we have a solution that works for everyone.

“I’ll keep in touch with him on that as well.”

There have long been hopes for a third bridge over the River Thames that would allow drivers to bypass the town, improve air quality and reduce traffic running through Caversham.

The bridge would run from Thames Valley Park in Earley to the junction of Henley Road and Caversham Park Road in South Oxfordshire.

Hopes for a bridge form part of Reading Borough Council’s transport strategy 2040 and desire to improve air quality in the town.

However, hopes for the bridge have been dashed as councillors on South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) have voiced opposition to the project.

Retired veteran councillor Tony Page lamented that his biggest regret was not being able to move ahead with a third Thames bridge.

In his final interview as a councillor, Mr Page also argued that Oxfordshire councils had not engaged on the creation of park-and-ride sites north of the river.

Asked whether she would support park and ride sites to assist travel from the north into Reading, Mrs Dodds said: “The most important thing for me is that these transport developments are driven by local people and their needs.

“I’m sure that Matt Rodda and more Labour MPs will be able to push that case as well, so that local peoples’ voices are heard when it comes to transport development, and that would cover any park-and-rides but also services too.”

Any third Thames Bridge would require the consent of Oxfordshire County Council and Wokingham Borough Council as highway authorities.

It would also require consent from South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) as a planning authority.

Any park-and-ride facilities north of Reading would also require SODC approval as well, and theoretically fall under the new Henley and Thame parliamentary constituency, which covers its eponymous towns and villages in South Oxfordshire.

Mrs Dodds was in the area for a ‘Labour Battle Bus’ campaign stop at Shinfield Studios in the Earley and Woodley constituency on Friday, June 14.

She is also the chair of the Labour Party.