A member of the House of Lords and former Green Party leader has put her support behind the Reading parliament candidate in a visit to the town.

Baroness Natalie Bennett joined councillor Dave McElroy, the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Reading Central and other activists to draw attention to pollution problems in Reading.

Speaking by Caversham Bridge, Baroness Bennett talked about ‘unacceptable levels of pollution both in the air above and the waters of the River Thames below’.

Pointing to rowers passing through the arches of the bridge she said: “Everyone should be free to use the river for leisure purposes without exposing themselves to severe health risks.

“And wildlife should be able to flourish in an uncontaminated environment.

“Yet Thames Water continues to discharge unprecedented volumes of sewage into the river and the levels of E.coli now present in British rivers could cause horrible illness.

“We urgently need drastic changes to water and sewage infrastructure. Greens pledge to nationalise water companies and invest £12 billion in infrastructure to prevent sewage being dumped into rivers and seas.”

Cllr McElroy, drawing attention to the heavy traffic passing over Caversham Bridge added: “There’s just one of Reading’s many transport problems. Our roads are choked and our kids breathe foul air.

“Yet Labour’s new local transport plan makes sure the private car stays top of the heap.”

For its part, officials for Reading Borough Council under its Labour administration have touted objectives in its Transport Strategy 2040 that includes the introduction of new bus and cycle lanes and investing in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Cllr McElroy continued: “Greens will keep pushing for a truly sustainable transport system, both locally and nationally.

“That means proper subsidies for rail and bus travel, free bus travel for under-18s, effective support for electrification, new cycleways and footpaths.

“It also means bringing the railways back into public ownership and local authorities having proper control over improved bus services.”

In the election, cllr McElroy faces off against Matt Rodda, the Labour candidate, Henry Wright for the Liberal Democrats, cllr Raj Singh, the Conservative candidate, Andrew Williams for Reform UK and Michael Turberville, who is standing as an Independent.

In-person voting for the general election will take place from 7am to 10pm on Thursday, July 4.

Baroness Bennet was the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales from 2012 to 2016.

She is known publicly in what she called “an excruciating” viral interview with LBC Radio host Nick Ferrari in 2015.

Ms Bennett became a member of the House of Lords in October 2019.