The Labour party is fielding 18 candidates in the Wokingham Borough Council elections this year.

The Labour Party is running on a platform including improving education, Children and Youth services, increasing the number of council houses, and having a ‘pedestrian first’ approach to town centres, among other pledges.

The party has also pledged to prioritise public transport, walking and cycling over car usage, and commission and support a Citizen’s Assembly to manage the borough’s response to the Climate Emergency, which was declared by the council in July 2019.

Wokingham Labour no doubt hopes to chip away at the Conservative Party majority.

READ MORE: Labour say Wokingham Tories have 'got a fight on their hands' during May election

Meanwhile, Lindsay Ferris, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has expressed a desire to win enough seats to make Wokingham Borough a ‘No Overall Control’ council.  This would make it harder for the Conservatives to implement their agenda. The Conservatives currently have a majority of 16 – so Labour and the Liberal Democrats would have to win 16 of the 18 seats between them to put Wokingham Borough  into a ‘No Overall Control’ status.

In the 2018 elections, Labour’s Carl Doran and Rachel Burgess beat the Conservatives to earn seats on the council. Cllr Doran represents Bulmershe and Whitegates and Cllr Burgess represents Norreys. Neither of them are up for election this year.

The following year, in 2019, Labour’s Shirley Boyt beat Conservative candidate Shahid Younis to represent Bulmershe and Whitegates. There are three councillors allocated to the ward, and all of them are held by Labour.

READ MORE: Liberal Democrats leader says taking control of Wokingham council is 'unrealistic'

There are 18 seats up for grabs in this election, with Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats competing in all of them.

Here are the Labour candidates who are competing for seats on Wokingham Borough Council:

Andy Croy, Bulmershe and Whitegates

Bracknell News: Andy Croy, Labour candidate for Bulmershe & Whitegates ward.Andy Croy, Labour candidate for Bulmershe & Whitegates ward.

Cllr Andy Croy has served as a councillor for Bulmershe and Whitegates, and is the leader of the Wokingham Labour party.

Cllr Croy grew up on a council estate in Wokingham, served in the reserve Forces and taught in Sudan and Kenya before changing career to become an accountant. He has one grown up son who, like Andy, was educated at The Forest School, Winnersh. For two years Andy was the only Labour councillor in the borough chamber, but now leads a group of four Labour councillors. The party is seeking to gain more seats to provide ‘real opposition’ to the Conservatives who dominate the Council.

Andy is currently heavily involved in trying to reshape the Conservative’s failing Climate Emergency Action “Plan” so that the Borough will be carbon neutral by 2030.

Andy believes a strong opposition is vital in a Council dominated by the Conservatives. Labour campaigns to reverse cuts to bus services, to stop the Conservatives taxing child maintenance, to stop taxing carers and to shame the other councillors into freezing their ever increasing allowances are examples of where Andy and Labour opposition have made a difference.

Andy has worked hard in the ward for five years and he and teams of Labour volunteers and resident litter-pickers are a regular and welcome feature of life in Bulmershe and Whitegates. He said he is proud of his ward, and proud to represent the people who live there.

Andy has been at 99 per cent of meetings he was expected to attend. He hopes to continue to stand up for the people of Bulmershe and Whitegates and ensure their voice is always heard.

Cllr Croy was the Labour party candidate for the general elections in 2015 and 2017, coming runner up on both occasions to Wokingham’s serving MP Sir John Redwood.

Dr Annette Medhurst, Evendons

Bracknell News: Dr Annette Medhurst, Labour candidate for Evendons ward.Dr Annette Medhurst, Labour candidate for Evendons ward.

Annette lives with her family in Woosehill, and she is an active member of her community. She is a trustee at a charity run pre-school and a parent governor at her daughter’s school.  She has held a number of voluntary roles, including work at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and at local schools. She is currently the unpaid manager at a local emergency food distribution charity which supports residents across the Borough.

Annette believes that addressing the climate emergency needs to be at the heart of everything the council does and informs the decisions that are made. The local Labour Green Vision for Wokingham Borough outlines our hopes for the future with bold non-negotiable commitments including opposing the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

Annette feels passionately that everyone should have an equal opportunity in life. Working for a charity that supports households struggling with the cost of every day essentials has highlighted to her the challenges many residents face on a day-to-day basis. Time and time again she hear that property rental is too high leaving households struggling to make ends meet. Wokingham Labour states:  “Our community does not need more expensive executive flats, it needs council houses.

“Residents deserve to live in a forward-thinking borough that allows everyone to flourish, provides opportunities for all and thinks about the future for the next generation. To achieve this, we need strong opposition on the council with representation across the political spectrum.”

Dr Medhurst ran as the Labour candidate for Wokingham constituency in the 2019 General Election.

She came in third place with 6,450 votes, being beaten out by Liberal Democrat former Bracknell MP Philip Lee with 23,351 votes, and Wokingham’s serving MP Sir John Redwood with 30,734 votes (a 7,383 vote majority).

Brain Scott, Charvil

Bracknell News: Brian Scott, Labour candidate for Charvil ward.Brian Scott, Labour candidate for Charvil ward.

Brian has lived in Charvil for 22 years and originally worked in Ruscombe. He is now retired and would welcome the opportunity to give something back to the community.  Brian is married and has a grown-up son who teaches at a local secondary school.

For the last 22 years of his working life he was a full time union official for one of the UK’s largest trade unions representing those working in the Post/Mails and Logistics sector. His commitment has always been to advocate the views, opinions and objectives of those he represented and would look to continue to do so if elected as the councillor for Charvil.

His objective as a councillor would be to be the voice of Charvil residents by putting them, and their interests, at the forefront of all debates and decisions. He would ensure that a “Forum for Charvil” was established to inform opinion on all issues and challenges.

He is committed to providing a strong opposition on the council to the Conservatives – they appear to take residents for granted. He also believes that all house building in Charvil should cease unless or until an infrastructure plan is in place and for which developers would have a responsible to fund.

Llewelyn Reed-Jones, Emmbrook

Bracknell News: Llewelyn Reed-Jones, Labour candidate for Emmbrook ward.Llewelyn Reed-Jones, Labour candidate for Emmbrook ward.

Llewelyn was born in Sheffield and moved to Wokingham in 2018. He lives Woosehill with his partner.

Llewelyn works as a fleet mechanic and is proud to have spent the COVID pandemic keeping telecoms, infrastructure, police, and delivery workers on the road. In a council full of “professional” people, Mr Reed-Jones believes there is a need for more working class voices on the council.

Llewelyn was dismayed that the council recently voted to support the third Runway at Heathrow. He was especially surprised that Liberal Democrat councillors in Emmbrook voted for it.

The two main issues that Llewelyn hears about in Emmbrook ward are road safety and anti-social behaviour. If elected, Llewelyn will campaign on road safety and for traffic calming measures where these are need. He will also forge strong links with the local Neighbourhood Policing Team so that patrols can be put in the right areas.

Llewelyn also recognises that the council must play its part with much better provision of youth services. Wokingham Labour claims Conservative and Liberal Democrat austerity has decimated youth services and now the whole community is paying the price.

Alexander Freeny, Finchampstead North

Bracknell News: Alexander Freeny, Labour candidate for Finchampstead North ward.Alexander Freeny, Labour candidate for Finchampstead North ward.

Alex has lived in Wokingham since he was 18 months old and is currently studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Warwick University.

As half of his degree is Economics, he understands the importance of setting ambitious but also achievable targets.

Wokingham Labour states: “We have to take the world as it is not as we would like it to be, which means prioritising the most important issues and being prepared to compromise. Covid-19 remains an unprecedented challenge for our Borough but also gives us an opportunity to seriously rethink our priorities moving forward.

“Councils around the country are starting to wake up to the alarming consequences of climate change. We need a serious Green energy plan, which would provide stable employment for thousands and help to reduce our contribution to rising temperatures. It’s not too late for us to make a difference but it might be if we allow uninterested Conservatives to continue to kick the can down the road.

“We can do much better and the people of Finchampstead North deserve a councillor who will fight for Climate survival.”

Grace Tapping, Finchampstead South

Bracknell News: Grace Tapping, Labour candidate for Finchampstead South ward.Grace Tapping, Labour candidate for Finchampstead South ward.

Grace has lived in Wokingham her whole life – barring the three years  spent in Warwickshire studying for her degree.

She has been active in campaigning to halt the impacts of climate change. She is committed to the formation of a Citizens Assembly on the Climate Emergency and believes the only way to make real positive change is through the involvement of the whole community.

Wokingham Labour states: “Housing is another area of policy where the Conservatives have failed. There is a significant deficit in social housing and affordable homes for families across the Borough. While new developments continue to spring up no solution to these problems have been offered and many young people are finding themselves priced out of their home town. Further issues with the continued development of Wokingham arise in the lack of infrastructure currently in place, from roads to schools.

“The Council needs a strong opposition. Labour councillors have made a difference across the borough, stopping unwanted development on the River Thames, and forcing a freeze in councillors pay during a time when many of our key workers are facing pay rises below the rate of inflation. The difference made by Labour councillors can be felt. Grace wants to join them to act in the interests of the residents of Finchampstead South.”

Marke Craske, Hawkedon

Bracknell News: Mark Craske, Labour candidate for Hawkedon ward.Mark Craske, Labour candidate for Hawkedon ward.

Mark has lived in Hawkedon Ward for 28 years and originally worked in Bracknell. Mark now works part-time with the intention of retiring later this year, and would welcome the opportunity to give something back to the community now that he will have the time and opportunity to so do.

Mark’s objective as a Councillor would be to be the voice of Hawkedon Ward residents, putting them, and their interests, at the forefront of all debates and decisions.

In respect of policies, he is opposed to the third runway at Heathrow, basically because the cost and environmental impact is not justified.  He is also supportive of council housing and of a more sustainable green approach. This is why, specifically, he supports Wokingham Labour’s objective of a Citizen’s Assembly on the Climate Emergency which would inform and establish policy for the future.

Mark also believes that all house building in Lower Earley should cease unless or until an infrastructure plan is in place, which developers would have a responsibility to fund.

This election, even in these unusual and challenging times, offers residents an opportunity for change and a change for the better.  Mark believes that he can make that difference and is seeking the support of Hawkedon Ward residents to do so.

Hari Sarasan, Hillside

Bracknell News: Hari Sarasan, Labour candidate for Hillside ward.Hari Sarasan, Labour candidate for Hillside ward.

Hari has lived in Hillside for more than 13 years with his family.  He works in the financial industry in London and has young daughter who attends the local primary school.

He is a firm believer in local solutions for the local community. He believes that the constituents in Hillside are better served by a strong opposition voice on the council. Even though he is standing as a Labour candidate, he promises to put residents’ views ahead of the party view in the council.

If he is elected, he will push for change on the climate emergency and for better funded public services, two issues his particularly passionate about.

Wokingham Labour states: “As the country recovers from the terrible pandemic, a vote for your Labour candidate will be a strong message to the government that we don’t want to go through more years of austerity and another round of public funding cuts.

“Hari will work hard for Hillside for the next four years representing residents. A strong and genuine voice in the council for the ward he lives in – that is what Hari promises the residents of Hillside.”

Paula Montie, Hurst

Bracknell News: Paula Montie, Labour candidate for Hurst ward.Paula Montie, Labour candidate for Hurst ward.

Paula has lived in Hurst for over 20 years – she loves the village and the borough, especially the open spaces where she enjoys walking with her husband, Martin and their rescue dog, Rusty.

Paula and Martin moved out of London when she was appointed headteacher of a school in Bracknell. In 2004, she became headteacher of Polehampton Junior School until her retirement in 2011. After retiring, she was a chairman of governors and has a particular interest in helping children who experience challenges in their learning.

Apart from her keen interest in education and politics, she also enjoys the theatre and is a member of Progress Theatre Company in Reading.

Paula said: “There are many local issues that need to be addressed such as lack of school places, support for children with special educational needs and disabilities, greater provision for children and young people, protection of our green spaces, truly affordable housing, transport, fly-tipping, speeding etc.

“However, there is also a bigger picture to consider. We face unprecedented threats: climate change, work insecurity, an aging population, widening inequality – all of which will affect our everyday lives. These challenges call for new ways of thinking including innovative ways to involve the community and make local government more responsive the people it serves.”

Majid Nagra, Loddon

Bracknell News: Majid Nagra, Labour candidate for Loddon ward.Majid Nagra, Labour candidate for Loddon ward.

Majid Nagra is a resident of Loddon ward, where he lives with his wife and family. He is currently serving as a Woodley town councillor for Loddon South.

Majid’s normal business as taxi driver was badly affected during the pandemic but as a qualified carer he was able to work on the front line of providing care. He was greatly moved and felt supported by the “clap for carers” but was dismayed by the pitiful pay rise offered to nurses this year.

Majid believes the pandemic exposed the failings in our health and social care systems. Now, more than ever, the council must compensate for a failing government.

Majid is keen to see the council do as much as it possibly can to not only support carers but also to support small businesses and the self-employed. He would like to use his experience in both sectors to make sure Wokingham Borough Council does better in these areas.

As a Woodley Town councillor he has repeatedly raised issues regarding the good governance of the town council. He believes residents want open and transparent decision making at both town and borough council and he is determined to help make this happen. Majid is always looking for ways to support residents and has been working closely with Labour borough councillors to help resolve various issues for residents.

Andrew Gray, Maiden Erlegh 

Bracknell News: Andrew Gray, Labour candidate for Maiden Erlegh ward.Andrew Gray, Labour candidate for Maiden Erlegh ward.

Andrew has lived in Maiden Erlegh for over five years and works as a music teacher in a local secondary school. He wants to represent Maiden Erlegh to offer real change from the old, tired local politics in the area. He will be a fresh voice on Wokingham Borough Council that will work hard for residents, and make local politics accessible for everyone.

He cares passionately about the opportunities for young people in the borough and is concerned about the rise in waiting lists for mental health cases. These will be Andrew’s priorities if he is elected in May.

Nick Fox, Norreys

Bracknell News: Nick Fox, Labour candidate for Norreys ward.Nick Fox, Labour candidate for Norreys ward.

Nick lives near Bishops Drive with his partner and young family. His children attend local schools and nurseries.  Nick has worked for a major utility company for many years  in a variety of front line  roles which has reinforced his belief in the value of collaborative working. Even when people disagree, the best route to a good solution is to listen to all views and work as a team.

Nick has been a Wokingham Town councillor for the Norreys West ward for two years where he sits on the town Planning Committee and the town finance committee.

Nick wants to be a borough councillor to improve the lives of local residents and protect the borough from unwelcome development. Wokingham Labour states: “Too often unwelcome development is waved through at Borough Planning Committee dominated by Conservative councillors. He has seen at first hand the struggles of local families and the great work of Cllr Rachel Burgess has done fighting for those who need to be heard and helped.

“Covid has caused us huge strains in our personal lives in the last year but Nick hopes to be back out on the doorstep soon, talking to residents on a weekly basis as we have been doing for years before the Covid pandemic. The role of a borough councillor is to represent their local residents in their ward and the larger borough. We should always there to listen and support.”

Nick hopes that with a new voice and a new councillor for Norreys, he can help change Wokingham Borough Council for the better.

Marcus McDowell, Shinfield South

Bracknell News: Marcus McDowell, Labour candidate for Shinfield South ward.Marcus McDowell, Labour candidate for Shinfield South ward.

Marcus grew up in the borough and has lived locally for his whole adult life. He was motivated to become a councillor after witnessing the devastating effects on our community of continued Conservative cuts to public services.

Marcus is a Shinfield Parish councillor and as such is heavily involved in many community projects.

Marcus was involved in the successful campaign against Shinfield quarry and has also campaigned against excessive speeding in Shinfield.  He has also led parent campaigns targetting the ‘inadequate’ Special Educational Needs provision offered by Wokingham Borough Council.

If elected, Marcus will continue to campaign against speeding in Shinfield Parish also to continually improve SEND provision for the whole Borough.

Caroline Hill, Twyford

Bracknell News: Caroline Hill, Labour candidate for Twyford ward.Caroline Hill, Labour candidate for Twyford ward.

Caroline Hill is standing to be a strong voice for Twyford’s residents on Wokingham Borough Council. Through her work as an assistant headteacher at a primary school, she recognises how political decisions at a local level can make a huge difference to the lives of children and young people. Working throughout this pandemic in the centre of the community really drove home for Caroline the importance of local services in providing support, such as food parcels and social care, and giving a sense of safety and security to young and old alike.

Wokingham Labour stated: “Caroline believes we can do better than Wokingham Borough Council’s current attempt at tackling the climate emergency, by implementing Wokingham Labour’s Green Vision. Labour will hold a Citizens’ Assembly on the Climate Emergency and take these views straight to the council. Labour will also prioritise new affordable council housing; community homes that will allow people to stay close to family in the borough, not forced out of living locally due to sky-high private rent.”

When not working, Caroline volunteers as a youth leader and loves cooking and DIY projects. She lives in Broad Hinton and has spent lockdown exploring all of Twyford’s footpaths.

Stuart Cranier, Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe

Bracknell News: Stuart Cranier, Labour candidate for Wargrave, Remenham and Ruscombe ward.Stuart Cranier, Labour candidate for Wargrave, Remenham and Ruscombe ward.

Stuart was brought up in Lancashire, and has lived in Twyford and now Wargrave for the last 30 years.

He has been a member of the Labour Party throughout his adult life and believes in its values and the continuing need to make Britain a fairer and better place to live.Stuart believes these challenges have never been starker and the need for a transformation in our country never clearer.

In his working life he is an author and editor, and runs a global consulting, publishing and events business based in Wargrave. He is also studying at the University of Reading.

Colin Heath, Wescott

Bracknell News: Colin Heath, Labour candidate for Wescott ward.Colin Heath, Labour candidate for Wescott ward.

Colin grew up in Merseyside but has been proud to call Wokingham his home for almost 40 years. Colin’s children were raised locally.

Colin is retired after a career in central government finance. He is a strong believer in local government for local people.  He believes the current government’s preference for big, private sector centralised contracts over supporting and developing the expertise of local government has contributed to the expensive and wasteful track and trace outcomes.

As a town councillor for Wescott West or a borough councillor for Wescott, Colin’s approach will be underpinned by engagement – he will always seek, and listen to, the views of residents.

Colin believes that what is good for the planet is good for our community. Colin supports the establishment of a Citizens’ Assembly on the Climate Emergency. Whether the concern is planning and construction, transport, our green spaces, allotments, or markets, meaningful involvement will produce better solutions.

Colin is a keen supporter of the Arts. One of his current activities is helping to run an arts group that reaches out to all sections of our community and he will work for the growth in  the provision for recreational  and cultural activities.

Colin enjoys taking his grandchildren to the Madjeski to watch Reading FC but confesses to always having an eye out for his original home team.

Allan Murungi, Winnersh

Bracknell News: Allan Murungi, Labour candidate for Winnersh ward.Allan Murungi, Labour candidate for Winnersh ward.

Allan lives in Winnersh with his young family. Allan is an IT networking professional.

He is particularly keen to see Wokingham Borough Council improve the way it deals with adoption of new estates. Residents on new estates are often let in limbo due to the delays in getting the roads, open spaces and other infrastructure adopted by the Council. Allan believes that as the residents of new estates are paying their council tax they should be treated much better by Wokingham Borough Council.

With two children under three years old, Allan also takes a keen interest in the quantity and quality of local play and educational opportunities for children.

Brent Lees, Wokingham Without

Bracknell News: Brent Lees, Labour candidate for Wokingham Without ward.Brent Lees, Labour candidate for Wokingham Without ward.

Brent is a 58 year old IT professional based in Newbury, but currently enjoying working from home. Brent is originally from Manchester and has lived in Wokingham since 1998. He has four grown up children, two went through school in Wokingham borough, one is now serving in the RAF and another is currently studying at Birmingham University.

Brent is passionate about social justice and want to see the council improve its support for the least advantaged in the borough.

He campaign to remain in the EU and for increased funding for Wokingham schools.

He is dismayed at the loss of green space planned for our area and will be a strong voice for Wokingham Without. He is committed to being accessible and to representing his residents’ views in council.

Brent has supported Manchester City for 53 years.