MP HOPEFULS gathered to hear the concerns of Reading’s voters at a reverse hustings held in the Quaker’s Meeting Hall.

Campaigners from every party contesting the town’s two seats – except Conservative candidates Alok Sharma and Rob Wilson - were on hand to answer questions on a host of topics.

The evening was broken into four 20-minute sections covering topics including homelessness, isolation in the community and the environment.

Voters were given the chance to share their views and opinions on each area before candidates had an opportunity to respond.

The five candidates at the meeting and two representatives for the Liberal Democrats unable to attend were then given a short period to sell their parties to the electorate.

A crowd of around 200 voters gathered at the Reading Quaker Meeting House on Church Street.

Reading West:

Olivia Bailey - Labour Party:

Ms Bailey addressed homelessness and integration, saying the number of homes built under the Conservative Government was 60 per cent lower than under Labour.

"Homelessness has come up a lot as I have been talking to people on the doorstep," she said.

"They’ve said they think homelessness is rising in Reading. It is, it has doubled. Since the Conservatives came into power it has not doubled by accident but as a result of political choices.

“Rents locally are over a thousands pounds a month. Our manifesto was really really clear we will build 1,000,000 homes by the end of the next parliament, half of those will be affordable."

"It’s really important to say from the outset our country is being made significantly better and our community locally benefits from a strong contribution of migrants from the EU and further afield.

"We will protect and guaranteed the rights of EU nationals currently in the UK. Freedom of movement will need to come to an end but we need a sensible approach to this.

"The Labour manifesto is called 'for the many, not the few' and there couldn't be a simpler message."

Meri O'Connell - Liberal Democrats represented by Ricky Duveen:

Cllr Duveen addressed homelessness and the future of our relationship with the European Union.

"Hundreds and hundreds of homes in Reading have been lost to right-to-buy over the years," he said.

"The council’s aren’t allowed to borrow money or use the money from selling houses.

"If we do not end right-to-buy we need to build a new home for everyone we sell off.

"The number of homeless in Reading is measured at 22 people, but official figures don’t count a lot of people who haven’t been contacted. There are definitely 10s of people on the Reading streets as I speak.

"Brexit is the most important decision we have had to make for years. We did not know the potential effects of Brexit.

"We will give people the right to have the final say once the terms have been set."

Jamie Whitham - Green Party:

Mr Whitham spoke about energy and the environment plans for the future of schools. He also spoke on behalf of the Reading East Green candidate Kizzi Johannessen who was taken ill.

"We would significantly improve the quality of housing for disabled people," he said.

"We would protect young people’s housing needs by reinstating housing support for under 21s."

Turning to our relationship with Europe he said: "We would automatically guarantee residency for all EU nationals living in the UK.

"We will actively campaign to save our jobs and rights putting the environment at the heart of future trade details.

"We want to protect freedom of movement and remain in the single market.

"We would replace fracking and coal power stations with green alternatives. We would create a new clean air act expanding a new clean air network.

"We would support the tidal lagoon in the Severn and windfarms whilst putting taxes on fossil fuels of various sorts on private cars.

"The Green Party will protect the BBC and tighten the rules for media ownership so no individual or company could own more than 20 per cent of the market, abolish SATS and reduce class sizes with full education not starting till seven.

"We would abolish Ofsted and change the curriculum so it’s student centred. We certainly want a universal income. We want the minimum wage to be a living wage.

"I may not win this election, but a vote for me reminds the Government we are watching."

Reading East:

Kizzi Johannessen - Green Party was taken ill and represented by Jamie Whitham, Reading West candidate.

Andy Kirkwood - Movement for Active Democracy:

Mr Kirkwood, standing on a single issue platform, told voters he was campaigning to bring decision making power out of Westminster and back to the crowd.

"The reason I stand here is I'm now 60 and have watched the balance of power go form Conservative to Labour to Conservative to Labour and realised nothing has changed," he said.

"That is because the Government is controlled by permanent under secretaries, banks and corporations.

"We should get to a system where the people can be involved in every decision.

"800 years ago we had to send the squire on a horse because he was the only person who had one, but we have the technology now.

"Climate change is upon us like a monster. We don’t have to worry about the future of our children but for ourselves. I’m staggered by the apathy and lethargy of successive Governments.

"The only police I have is that you should be able to self determine rule for yourselves I don’t want any more power than the rest of you."

Matt Rodda - Labour Party:

Cllr Rodda addressed the crowd on the environment and sustainability, saying they faced a stark choice when they head to the polls next week.

"Since 2010 we have seen the Conservatives carry out a number of very aggressive actions against the environment," he said.

"We would invest massively in tackling climate change. I fully accept the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and I think we should all make note of them.

"We stand at a very important point in human history. We have the ability to stop climate change or let it roll on.

"One of the most difficult things in this country is arguing for infrastructure and investment.

"There’s a clear and very stark choice that faces the country and that’s between continued austerity or a completely different approach allowing us to restart the economy and create sustainable growth.

"Locally we have the very important choice between a continued broken housing market and proper investment in the housing market.

"We would bring an end to the landlordism that has blighted Reading for many years with proper controls."

Michael Turberville - Independent Candidate:

Mr Turberville claimed he was the one candidate out of all those campaigning for election who was truly able to stand independently as he was not tied to a party.

He advocated investing in new rail stock to replace the need for short-haul flights, creating one large airport to serve the country for international flights.

"I’m the only candidate who is not tied to a party," he said.

"Everyone else is tied to a manifesto and political party. I have vast experience with the education system in different countries.

"We have voted to leave the EU but we can't do that until the Human Rights Act is repealed. That is why Theresa May has called this election.

"Reading is an ideal commuter town. You can get from Paddington to Reading in less time than you can get from the centre to the outskirts.

"What’s the point in building Kennet Island if you can't get there?

"There shouldn't be a separate under 25 minimum wage, it should be the same and there should be a universal income."

Jennie Woods - Liberal Democrat represented by James Moore:

Mr Moore told the audience the Liberal Democrats had long-standing commitments to policies including votes for over 16s, electoral reform and opposition to fox hunting.

He addressed the crowd on education, environmental sustainability and the future after a possible Brexit.

"Education is an issue here in Reading where school are struggling with rising numbers of pupils and budget cuts," he said.

"We want to invest £29m into Reading's schools, enough to reverse the Conservative cuts.

"We are leaving the EU but we don’t have to leave the single market. We have 150,000 EU migrants in Reading alone and they contribute a large amount to our local community.

"Our voting system is broken. We can give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote, it was done in Scotland and participation was very high, let's do it for all elections here.

"The NHS needs more money and support so we would bring in an extra 1p per pound on income tax and ring-fence the NHS.

"We propose setting up a new bank for investment specifically to provide money for housing and infrastructure."

The evening, organised by Reading's Quakers, ended at 10pm, just eight days before polls open.