Wednesday, 7 April 2010

General Election called

A really exciting day for me yesterday with the General Election being called. This is the first time I've stood for Parliament and however much you prepare for it when the day arrives I'd defy anyone to feel some trepidation - even old timers. All very exciting though and I'm very much up for the fight. We were delighted to get a visit from South East MEP Sharon Bowles. I helped Sharon and her colleague Catherine Bearder during the European Parliament Election campaign last year and it was great to have her support for our campaign in Reading West.

First stop was a visit to Reading Buses to meet with Chief Exec Officer James Freeman to find out more about the company's efforts to go green following the Bio-Ethanol debacle last year. Sharon and I were impressed by the company's plans to pilot electric buses due to come on stream later this year. Government policy both locally, nationally and at a European level needs to be more joined up to encourage companies not penalise them for using green fuels. I also raised the need for cheaper bus fairs for young people - something MYP Josh Harsant and Reading's Youth Cabinet have identified as the number one issue for young people in Reading.
Next up was a quick interview with BBC South's Joe Campbell on Cranbury Road in Battle ward - once a Labour heartland. A nice surprise was bumping into one of my local Twitter followers and her cute baby. I also had a brief chat with Labour Candidate Naz Sarkar who was also in the area too before we whizzed off for a walkabout around Tilehurst Triangle with Tilehurst Lib Dem councillor Peter Beard.
We called in on the Village Butcher and the Wool Shop and stopped in for a cup of tea and a chat with locals in The Link Community Cafe - a great community facility run by a really committed bunch of local volunteers. The Conservative Candidate Alok Sharma and his team were out in the Triangle also making the most of the lovely sunny weather - ideal for campaigning after weeks of rain. We thanked Sharon and her team and waved them off to her next stop - Maidenhead. My team and I then managed to squeeze in a quick pit stop before heading off to the heart of Southcote to deliver campaign literature to residents. There were plenty of Labour posters but barely any activists out and about. After that I went to down to Whitley to campaign with our excellent local candidate for Whitley in the upcoming local election Roy Haines. We spoke to a number of residents who were fed up with Labour but unconvinced by what they had seen of the Conservatives. Several said they were planning to vote Lib Dem this time and were very positive about Vince Cable and my record of campaigning locally. All in all a great day and an excellent start to our campaign.

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