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General Election - Reading West

Live updates from Reading

John Herring

Reporter:

John Herring

Email:

john.herring@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886633

General Election - Reading West

THAT'S it, voting has now closed for the 2015 General Election and the count is underway. NewburyToday will be updating its website with the latest reaction throughout the night and I'll be posting updates from the Rivermead Leisure Centre, where the battle for Reading West will be decided. 

Alok Sharma holds on to Reading West with 23,082 votes.

In his speech Mr Sharma said: "I thank everyone who voted for me and everyone who didn't as it's part of the democratic process and it's fantastic that we had so many people turn out to vote in this constituency. 

"We have had a remarkable result across the country. Conservatives have been winning the length and breadth across the country and David Cameron is still our Prime Minister.

I want to thank everyone who voted for me and my team. This has been hard work over the last few years.

What we have seen is something remarkable across the country. The Conservative government, led by David Cameron and George Osbourne, have got the most fundamental and right thing, and that's fixing our broken economy and making Britain great again."

Labour candidate Victoria Groulef congratulated Mr Sharma on his win but said that her party and team had a lot to congratulate themselves for.

She thanked her amazing campaign team and said that she was really proud to have invigorated young people to vote in Reading and had done what Labour did best, supporting those struggling or who ran their own business. 

"We are a party with aspiration tattooed on our heart," she said. "I'm sorry to all those who voted for me and I'm sorry that I could not win."  

RESULTS

Adams, Neil (Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition) 83 votes

Azam, Malik (UKIP) 4,826 votes

Ferguson, Suzie (Independent) 156 votes

Groulef, Victoria (Labour) 16,432 votes

Kennet, Miriam (Green) 1,406 votes

O'Connell, Meri (Lib Dem) 2,355 votes

Sharma, Alok (Conservative) 23,082 votes

West, Philip (The Roman Party, Ave) 64 votes

7.05am

National media are setting their cameras up in front of the stage. Result due within five minutes.

5.52am

The turn out for Reading West was 64.8 per cent. Last time it was 66 per cent.

5.49am

The mood has changed here as the countdown to the result begins winding down. No result here but Conservative candidate Richard Benyon has held on to the Newbury seat for a third term. 

Elsewhere, north west Hampshire, Sir George Young's fortress, has been won by his replacement Kit Malthouse.

5.35am

Conservative candidate Alok Sharma said he was feeling rested but said that he would have to be patient about the result.

He said that the national result had been phenomenal. "I think we can put that down firmly squarely to the Conservatives in government, David Cameron and George Osbourne, have delivered on the economy."

Commenting on his Conservative neighbour Richard Benyon, Mr Sharma said that they would good friends, with Mr Benyon coming out to help him secure votes during the campaign.

5.08am

Liberal Democrat candidate Meri O'Connell was upbeat despite her party taking some hits this evening. 

"I think we have done everything we could have done. It's not for the want of activists door knocking.

"We do have to take into account the national picture; you can't do a lot about that. We always knew that we would get a back lash for going into coalition with the Conservatives."

Reacting to business secretary Vince Cable losing his seat, Mrs O'Connell said: "I'm really sorry to see people like Vince Cable lose their seats, they are hard working MPs. Some have lost by narrow margins, I feel for them and the people from other parties. It's a hard game. I do wish people could see just how committed and hard working their political parties are. It might help restore their faith in politics.

"As a first time candidate it's an amazing experience to stand for your home town for parliament. I think it has been a clean competition here."

4.50am

Labour candidate Victoria Groulef says she's "not doing anything" ie talking to the press, until the announcement has been made.

4.14am

Former Reading West Labour MP Martin Salter on the national picture:

"I think the Conservatives led an overwhelmingly negative campaign and built up a bogey man of the SNP and in doing so strengthened the SNP position in Scotland, which of course is ironic for a Conservative and unionist party. All they've done is hasten the break up of the UK for short term political gain. 

"No doubt there will be a Conservative led government of some disposition."

3.44am

Westwood candidates and agents called. Looks like they're done.

3.23am

The Pangbourne count has been completed. It's just for the agents to confirm that all of the spoiled ballots have indeed been spoiled. The count from Theale is underway.

3.15am

Counting for candidates has begun, including Theale, Southcote and Kentwood.

3.06am

West Berkshire councillor Virginia von Celsing is here at Reading West. I asked for her views on the chances of Conservative candidate Alok Sharma.

"I think his chances here are extremely good.. he's been a very good MP for the last five years and hope he will continue in the foreseeable future."

And on Richard Benyon's chances in Newbury, she said: "I think Mr Benyon will do extremely well as he has done in the last elections. He's a very popular man regardless of his politics and is a wonderful representative for all of West Berkshire.

"I think it will be a good night all around for the Conservative Party. It shows that David Cameron's policies are bearing fruit."

2.33am

The verification continues........ Between 3am and 3.30am is the latest prediction

1.19am

Green Party candidate for Reading West, Miriam Kennet, told NewburyToday:

On her party's chances nationally - The Guardian had us on three per cent, which I think is wrong. We've had a huge surge of members. I was out in Tilehurst and people were asking for a membership form but whether that translates into votes is another thing. We now have more members that UKIP and the Lib Dems put together. It's massive, there's something very big happening."

She predicted that Caroline Lucas would hold onto Brighton Pavilion and that her party would win in Bristol.

When asked whether she thought she would win Reading West, "No" was the blunt response. And when asked about the realistic chances, she said: "One of the polls had us beating the Lib Dems and coming in fourth."

Mrs Kennet is also standing to be a councillor in Pangbounre ward for West Berkshire Council. I asked her about the campaign in the village.

"It's been very good. Canvassing has been very very positive. I'm very excited that we are standing. We've had lots of local support. It's the first time that we have stood there for a while so it will take a while to build it up.

She said that the village had "gone very green", including having a sustainability group but stated that people were very shy to support the Greens.

As for local issues, Mrs Kennet said that people were worried about the economy and house prices. "Housing, transport and a lack of buses," was how she summed it up. "They've also closed the public toilets and there's quite an elderly population there. It's not fair or right."

As for the Green candidate standing in Newbury, Paul Field, Mrs Kennet said that there had been a huge amount of support for Mr Field and the party while out canvassing in Newbury.

She said Mr Field was very popular and said she was delighted that he was standing. She added that he had been very supportive of her own campaign.

00.56

West Berkshire councillor for Birch Copse ward Emma Webster (Con) on her party's candidate Alok Sharma:

"When we were knocking on doors today people said they had been out to support him because of the things he had done for them or their friends or because of what they had heard or read about him. He's a local man who fights local issues and that's what being a good MP is all about." 

00.39

Ballot boxes are still being emptied and the verification process continues.

00.15

It's still quiet here. The only sounds are the rustle of papers being verified. There's a few supporters making their way in but 'the buzz' is yet to come.

00.05

Well, it's past midnight and the votes are still being verified. The word is that the count now won't begin until 2am. Time to crack open the chocolate.

11.37pm

It looks like the papers are being sorted ready for the count.

10.53pm 

It' pretty quiet here at the Reading West count, although some ballot boxes are starting to arrive. 

The count isn't expected to begin until midnight, with the result expected around 6am.

The constituency of Reading West encompasses Holybrook, Pangbourne, Theale, Tilehurst, Tidmarsh and Sulham within West Berkshire.

It was first contested in 1983 and won by the Conservative candidate Tony Durant, which he held until he retired in 1997. Labour then won the seat under Martin Salter until he stood down in 2010.

The most recent MP for the constituency is Alok Sharma, who won the seat with a majority of 6,004 in 2010. Mr Sharma is looking to hold onto the constituency, which he won with a 43.2 per cent share of the vote with 20,523 votes.

Labour finished second with 14,519 votes (30.5 per cent of the vote); the Liberal Democrats had 9,546 votes cast for them (20.1 per cent); UKIP had 1,508 votes (3.2 per cent); the Common Sense Party polled 852 votes (1.8 per cent) and the Green Party finished last with 582 votes (1.2 per cent).

There will be seven candidates challenging Mr Sharma in today's election (in alphabetical order): Neil Adams (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition); Malik Azam (UKIP); Suzie Ferguson (Independent); Victoria Groulef (Labour); Miriam Kennet (Green); Meri O'Connell (Lib Dem); Philip West (The Roman Party. Ave).

Those standing within Reading West wards for West Berkshire Council are:

Calcot (three seats) Peter Argyle (CON)Kate Butler (Labour)Charles Croal (Labour)Sue Farrant (Lib Dem)Manohar Gopal (CON)Mike Hood (Lib Dem)Gordon Lewis (Labour)Susan Prime (Lib Dem)Richard Somner (CON)

Pangbourne (one seat) Pamela Bale (CON)Miriam Kennet (Green)Matthew Shakespeare (Lib Dem)Ian Stevens (Labour)

Purley-On-Thames (two seats) Steve Brown (Lib Dem)Frank Dunaway (Labour)Shirley-Ann Dunaway (Labour)Rick Jones (CON)Tim Metcalfe (CON)Ann Turner (Lib Dem)

Theale (one seat) Alan Macro (Lib Dem) Billie Reynolds (Labour)Andrew Thompson (CON)

Westwood (one seat) James Hutchinson (Labour)Paul Walter (Lib Dem)Laszlo Zverko (CON)

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