Labour accept they won’t be running Wokingham Borough Council anytime soon but say the ruling Tories “have got a fight on their hands”.

While Labour have just four seats on the 54-seat council, there are 18 up for grabs at the election on May 6 and they are competing for all of them.

Cllr Andy Croy, leader of the Labour group of councillors on Wokingham Borough Council, said: “People should vote Labour in May because they know their councillor will be exceptionally hard working.

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“If you elect a Labour councillor, you will get a councillor for the next four years, not just for election day.

“It’s the easiest thing in the world to pop up at election time and say ‘I’m great’ but it’s much harder to carry on turning up every week to the ward to find out what people’s problems are.”

The chances of Labour winning all 18 seats in Wokingham, which always has a strong level of support for the Tories, are incredibly slim.

And even if they manage to pull off a miraculous clean sweep, they won’t have a majority.

The Conservatives have controlled the council for almost 20 years – they currently hold 31 seats and are looking to increase their majority in May.

But Cllr Croy, the only Labour candidate standing for re-election in May, said competition for every seat “is going to be close” and the Tories cannot afford to be complacent, as they could lose their majority.

“The Conservatives have got a fight on their hands and I don’t think anybody is going to claim wins or losses until the votes have been counted,” he said.

Wokingham Labour councillors Rachel Burgess, Andy Croy, Shirley Boyt and Carl Doran

Wokingham Labour councillors Rachel Burgess, Andy Croy, Shirley Boyt and Carl Doran

He also accepts that Labour won’t have enough seats to run the council anytime soon, but says the party has an array of candidates who are prepared to stand up for their residents and scrutinise the ruling party’s decisions.

“We’ve had to find another role for ourselves,” he said.

“The thing we’ve done very well is ensure there’s very strong and robust opposition for the Conservatives on the council.

“We find that a lot of people agree with us that, in order to make local government better, you need to have effective opposition. You can’t just have one party.

“People value their Labour councillors because they know we’re going to provide effective opposition.”

When Cllr Croy was elected in 2016, he was the only Labour councillor on the council, but now there are four.

Cllr Rachel Burgess and Cllr Carl Doran were elected in 2017 and Cllr Shirley Boyt became a councillor the following year.

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Cllr Croy believes there is growing support for Labour in Wokingham, especially among well-educated young professionals who don’t vote along traditional party lines.

The party have also published their manifesto, which focuses on enhancing education and youth services in Wokingham, improving public transport and responding to the climate emergency.

They have also promised to build more council houses, re-write the local plan – the blueprint for future developments in Wokingham – and “oppose the national imposition of unwanted development”.

The Liberal Democrats are the second largest party on the council, with 15 seats, but the leader has admitted it would be “unrealistic” for them to win a majority and they are aiming to “get enough seats to take control away from the Conservatives”.

That’s because the party, who are defending three seats, would need to win 16 in total to take control of Wokingham Borough Council.