A MEMBER of West Berkshire’s Green Party has received a national award for his impact on local party politics.
Steve Masters received the Green Party’s inspiring candidate award at the party’s conference in Harrogate.
Mr Masters joined the party two years ago and is chairman of the West Berkshire branch.
He stood for election to West Berkshire Council in the Thatcham South and Crookham by-election earlier this year, finishing third with 590 votes (15.6 per cent).
It was the party’s fourth best result in the country in terms of vote share – and was its highest-ever district council result.
Mr Masters said: “It’s not just the person on the ballot paper or the face of the campaign, it’s about all the people who stand behind you and lift you when you’re down.
“It’s a reflection of the growth and energy we have as a local party. We are getting more and more members all the time.
“I hope it’s going to inspire more members of the party and maybe other people who see this online or in the paper, to realise that we can make a difference.”
Mr Masters’ citation, read by the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas, described him as a very hard-working campaigner who had been out canvassing every day.
Mr Masters hit the campaign trail on a battle bike, speaking to commuters and calling for a bridge at Thatcham level crossing to cut down on air pollution.
Mr Masters, a former corporal in the RAF, was homeless for 10 months and joined the West Berkshire Save Our Services (SOS) campaign group in the wake of West Berkshire Council’s drastic cuts to frontline services.
A trustee of Eight Bells for Mental Health, Mr Masters said that the cuts were affecting people’s wellbeing.
“It affects people’s lives and puts them under strain and stress and I think people are waking up to that locally,” he said.
“I was homeless for 10 months and that had a profound impact on my outlook and mental health.
“It’s appalling that we have so many homeless people in tents around Newbury and Thatcham.
“It’s an absolute disgrace.
“The council should be ashamed of themselves... it’s not even hidden away now.”
Mr Masters said that the district needed to have a serious discussion on the ‘taboo’ subject of social housing.
He said: “We want to change the narrative and change the balance in West Berkshire, challenge the austerity and do things differently and be another voice in West Berkshire.
“Demographically we are very much on the upswing. The Lib Dems are in striking distance in a lot of seats. We have a lot of reasons to be encouraged.”
Mr Masters shared the award with Ben Fletcher, a deaf and blind party member who stood as the Green candidate in Putney.