Candidates from the big three parties in the Wokingham elections have explained what it is like to campaign during the pandemic.

Somewhat surprisingly, they have all said that they have been received well on the doorstep, with some voters being happy to speak with them about local issues.

Cllr John Halsall, leader of the Wokingham Conservatives, who’s standing in Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe, said: “I have been canvassing, I have probably been out 50 times, probably more, and I am quite happy to maintain social distancing and talk to people. There is a protocol in place where you deliver and then stand way back, and if someone comes to the door we talk to them.

“I’m being very careful to make sure that social distancing is vast, I have not had anybody who’s unwell.

“People are feeling much more comfortable with the vaccination going well, people are very confident that we have a Government that has gotten the bull by the horns. All of us are humbled by the position in Europe and India.”

READ MORE: Wokingham Conservative Leader's emphatic appeal to voters

The Wokingham Conservative Association decided not to canvass in Wescott, Evendons, Emmbrook, and Norreys – the Wokingham town wards – and Winnersh.

Cllr Halsall has been campaigning extensively, joining Conservative candidates and activists in Earley, Shinfield, Woodley, Charvil, Wokingham Without and Finchampstead.

He said: “I’ve been to many places, other than where ward associations and branches have decided it’s not wise to do face to face. These decisions were made by these wards at a time when we were still chasing down Covid levels. It’s a more secure environment now, though we are still in lockdown.”

Wokingham Borough is covered by four constituency Conservative Associations – Wokingham, Reading East, Maidenhead and Bracknell.

Activists in the Bracknell Association were joined by the area’s MP James Sunderland, the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Matthew Barber, seen above.

They were pictured on campaign in Finchampstead with incumbent Finchampstead North Cllr Charles Margetts and his wife Rebecca Margetts, candidate for Finchampstead South.

ELECTION 2021: All the Conservative candidates standing for election in Wokingham in 2021

Prior to the official campaign start date on Monday, March 8, political parties were only allowed to distribute campaign letters via the Royal Mail or a coronavirus secure mailing company. The Wokingham Conservatives chose to deliver via Royal Mail, but Bracknell Conservative Association decided not to use this method due to the costs involved.

The Wokingham Liberal Democrats decided to use the delivery system as well.

Cllr Clive Jones, a senior Liberal Democrat, defending his seat in Hawkedon, said: “We had no choice. Because the Government decided in January that political parties were no longer allowed to deliver their leaflets. So our members stumped up the money to pay for the Post Office and commercial delivery service to deliver for us in January, February and March.

“We did it because it is important to get our message across. It’s important to let people know what’s happening in their community.

“We were then allowed to deliver and knock on doors from March 8.”

Bracknell News:

Candidates and activists have been allowed to do this provided they wear a face mask and keep two metres distance.

How has the campaign been received on the doorstep? Cllr Jones answered: “We’ve got a very very positive response from  the vast majority of people we have spoken to.

“Some people have said: ‘should you be doing this?’ When I explain that we have to keep two metres distance and wear face masks, they say ‘OK’ and told us whether they support us or not. Invariably they say they will support us.”

He added that activists have been allowed to go to the polls to act as ‘tellers’ to ask people how they have voted. This practice has been allowed provided that people wear face masks and keep two metres distance.

ELECTION 2021: see your Wokingham Liberal Democrat candidates here

Cllr Andy Croy, leader of the Wokingham Labour Party, who is defending his seat in Bulmershe & Whitegates alluded to a ‘captive audience’ factor due to the lockdown, furlough and office working.

He said: “It’s been easier canvassing now. What normally happens is you knock on the door, and 80 per cent, or four out of five times, you don’t get an answer, or it’s a person waiting for a delivery.

“Now people are much more likely to open the door. Canvassing is better than any time I can remember. It’s a good time to be a canvasser – usually the biggest loss is the frustration of people not opening their door.”

ELECTION 2021: see your Wokingham Labour candidates here

He went on to say that the party has adapted messages depending on who they speak to. He said: “If they’re a Labour supporter we have a particular message for them, if it’s someone on the fence, the message will be more persuasive. We know the buttons to push.

“There are a number of people in Wokingham who are either Labour or Liberal Democrat, so we try to persuade them.”