A Liberal Democrat candidate looking to become a councillor has been criticised for describing the role as “a stepping stone”.

Jane Ainslie, who is competing for a seat on Wokingham Borough Council, said: “I see joining the council as a stepping stone to a role with a bigger impact.”

Her comments were published on the Liberal Democrat website, ahead of the election on May 6, and she has been criticised by rival candidates who will be standing against her in the Norreys ward.

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

She said her comments have been misinterpreted and she has “no ambitions beyond the council”.

Labour candidate Nick Fox said: “Representing your residents is an honour and privilege.

“It shouldn’t be treated as a stepping stone for anything. It’s about focusing on your residents’ needs not your own personal advancement.”

Conservative candidate Phil Cunnington said: “I’ll leave it for others to decide whether Jane wants to get elected to represent the people in Norreys ward or just to progress her political career via this ‘stepping stone’.

“For me, my whole focus is upon Norreys and improving things for the community and its wellbeing.”

Jane Ainslie

Jane Ainslie

However, Ms Ainslie insists she was referring to the role of councillor when she described “a role with a bigger impact”.

“I have no ambitions beyond the council which I think would be a fascinating opportunity,” she said.

“I was merely making the point that my involvement has been confined to within the schools my children attended when younger – this has been really fulfilling which is why I have done it for over 15 years.

“Obviously joining the council exposes you to bigger and broader issues hence the bigger impact, which would be on behalf of local residents.”

At the election in May, there will be 18 Wokingham Borough Council seats up for grabs.

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

The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour are competing for all 18.

The Tories have controlled the council for almost 20 years – they currently hold 31 of the 54 seats and are looking to increase their majority in May.

The Liberal Democrats are the second largest party on the council, with 15 seats.

Cllr Lindsay Ferris, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, has admitted it would be it would be “unrealistic” for the party to win a majority and they are aiming to “get enough seats to take control away from the Conservatives”.

Labour currently holds four seats and Cllr Andy 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.