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North of the River Branch

2018 Local Elections Candidates

Caversham Ward Candidate: Adele Barnett-Ward

Adele lives in Caversham with her husband, with whom she runs a small product design company, and their four children, who all attend local schools. Adele also works part-time as a Family Support Coordinator for Home-Start Reading. Home-Start Reading has been providing friendship and support to families in the town for over 30 years. Adele’s role is to support parents of young children to reach their goals for their family by accessing education and training or returning to work. Adele says ‘My job can be very rewarding, but I also see first-hand the challenges faced by many local families and that has inspired me to want to join the Council. As a Councillor I would not only be able to help residents resolve individual problems: I would also be able to use my experience as a charity worker, small-business owner, parent and resident to influence policy that affects us all.’

Adele set up the campaign group ‘Caversham And Emmer Green Against School Cuts’ and has become a familiar figure at school gates giving out information and talking to parents about how their children’s education will be affected by the government’s proposed new funding formula. She has also been a supporter of the campaign to save Chiltern Edge School from closure. In response to the recent news that South Oxfordshire County Council will not be moving forward with the proposed closure Adele said ‘I am over the moon for Save Our Edge and the many Caversham families that have chosen the school for their children. The campaign was a perfect example of why it’s important to stand up for what you believe in. It was inspiring to see how the community rallied around the school. I worked with Councillor Tony Jones (RBC Lead Councillor for Education) and Matt Rodda MP on the issue and saw first-hand the good that Labour politicians are doing in our town.’

Adele is out and about in Caversham with the Labour team most weekends, gathering feedback from residents on the issues that matter to them. Traffic and transport are topics that often come up. The new pedestrian and cycle bridge across the river gave Adele the courage to start cycling in Reading and it is now her main form of transport. Although she is keen to see further improvements to our cycle network and infrastructure she recognises that it’s not a practical option for everyone. She was instrumental in the campaign to encourage Reading Buses to reconsider their proposals to completely remove one bus route from the Caversham and Emmer Green network and greatly curtail others, working with Matt Rodda MP, Cllr Richard Davies (Caversham Ward) and local campaigners. In addition, she supports Cllr Davies’ proposal to introduce a 20mph speed limit in central Caversham and the Amersham Road area. Adele says ‘I am committed to ensuring that the Section 106 developer’s contributions are spent locally. That money can fund the 20mph zone that residents are asking for, and could also fund wider improvements to our roads, as suggested by local groups such as the Caversham and District Residents’ Association.’

Adele will be meeting and listening to as many residents as possible before the election, but you can also get in touch with her via Twitter @AdeleCaversham, through the Caversham Labour Facebook page or by email:

Thames Ward Candidate: Brian Murphy

As a Thames Ward resident of 25 years, local issues have an impact on me and my family. Whilst canvassing for MP Matt Rodda in the last two elections I have learnt a lot about the concerns of people in this area. It is important for councillors to represent and support residents and local businesses and this would continue to be my main purpose if elected as a Labour councillor for Thames Ward.

At The Piggott School in Wargrave I was Assistant Headteacher and Head of the Art Department. I have teaching experience in both Secondary and Primary Education. Education, social mobility and equal chances are of concern to most people of all ages who care about the prospects of future generations. Having insufficient school places in this area is a totally unacceptable situation, which could have been avoided with adequate planning and funding. I believe there are solutions and that these can be applied relatively quickly.
I am acutely aware of the housing crisis and the lack of affordable homes. My own four children went to local state schools and cannot afford to buy homes. I endorse Reading Council’s drive to build council houses and genuinely affordable private homes. Housing costs are pushing people into poverty. Houses can and should be built on brown field sites, of which there are many in the Reading area.

Like people of all ages I care about the impact we have on the environment and, although Reading has made good progress in providing recycling facilities, I am sure we could learn more from the example of other local authorities and other countries. This is after all a global issue.

I am concerned that some local residents feel unsafe due to burglaries or other crimes. Elderly and disabled people are most at risk. Local businesses also suffer. There are thefts of tools from local builders who have to borrow money in order to continue working. Bicycle thefts in the town centre are also a concern. Some people have said that they feel that the police are not interested and therefore they stop reporting these crimes.

Since retiring I have used my time to support the local community. I am a governor of Highdown School and I volunteer at The University of Reading in the School of Education. I campaigned successfully to overturn the proposal for parking restrictions in Uplands Road which would have led to more restrictions and traffic wardens, had an adverse impact on the local shop and wasted public money and council time. I am concerned to retain and improve public services and was very active in the campaign to save our buses which was led by Matt Rodda MP. The high cost of train travel for commuters in this area is another issue which could be changed if we act together and petition the government.

I am known as someone who ‘gets things done.’ If elected I will be active in representing residents and businesses in the area. I will be the voice of reason and common sense. I will also be outspoken and ask questions when it is necessary to do so.

Peppard Ward Candidate: Benjamin Perry

For those who don’t know me, my name is Benjamin Perry, I am 23, have been an active member of the party since I was 16, and have recently been selected as your candidate for the Reading Borough Council elections on May 3rd 2018.

Firstly, I wanted to thank those who were at the selection meeting for taking time out to participate in choosing the candidate for your Ward. Participation is essential to electoral success and I believe it is the duty of all Labour Members to commit whatever time they can to campaigning for a better, fairer future for all.

To tell you a little bit about myself, I moved to Reading with my partner in 2015 and have since then been extremely active in the Reading & District Labour Party. Last year I served as a Group Observer which gave me the chance to get involved in the council activities and gain an understanding in the way the Council, and we as a party, operate. In addition, for the past two year I have sat on the Executive Committee. In this role I have being involved in pretty much all the areas of the committee’s activity, including organising events, assisting in Labour’s participation in Reading Pride, arranging campaigns, as well as all the bureaucratic things the EC are responsible for. My proudest achievement as a member of the EC is the website. I have headed up the team designing and maintaining the new website and am proud to say that in less than 6 months we have had over 210,000 site visits.

As your candidate I am keen to get out and about in Peppard to talk to the people and understand how we, as a party, can support our community. It is no secret that the Tories have a majority in Peppard, but this should not deter us from doing our upmost to ensure Peppard’s voice is heard!

There are a number of significant issues that are not being addressed by our so-called councillors. Be it the growing amount of anti-social behaviour in and around our local shops, or the potential closure of Chilton Edge. We must stand up for the people of Peppard to make the Council aware of these issues and promote positive steps to combating the problems our community faces.

Today I would like to ask every member in this ward to consider the impact we could have if we worked together. Consider how much you could help support your community by committing just a couple of hours a week to campaigning or leafleting. Every minute you can offer is another step towards a better future for our town. Peppard can not go on with Tory Councillors who routinely ignore the issues the ward faces. We must hold them to account and promote a better way forward for us all. So please, in the lead up to this election I call on each of you to dedicate as much time as you can to our campaign for a better, fairer, and more harmonious Peppard.

If you would like to get in touch, please do not hesitate to email me with any questions you may have or issues you would like to discuss.

Thank you once again for selecting me as your candidate for Peppard Ward, I look forward to working with you all in the coming months.

Demography and history

The North of the River Branch comprises the four Reading wards located north of the River Thames – Caversham, Peppard, Thames and Mapledurham. In 2016 the population of the four wards totalled just over thirty-two thousand – approximately 20% of the population of Reading. The electorate at the last General Election numbered about 25,000.

For much of its existence, the area was in Oxfordshire but a large part was transferred to

Reading in 1911 with the remainder (commonly known as Caversham Park Village) transferred in 1977. The ward of Mapledurham was created in 2005 – this, along with other boundary changes, meant that the three larger wards had roughly equal electorates represented by three councillors and an electorate in Mapledurham of approximately one-third of their size and represented by just one councillor.

The area is generally thought to be one of affluence but there are significant areas of deprivation – especially in Caversham ward, e.g. higher percentage of children in danger of living in poverty and eligible for free school meals than the average for Reading.



The North of the River Labour Party

Up until 2010 the wards operated as separate entities but the decision was then made to amalgamate them into the North of the River branch so as to give a more cohesive approach to campaigning and winning for Labour.

The elected officers of the branch are:


Chair (acting) Richard Davies
Secretary Sue Kitchingham
Treasurer Darran Scully
Vice-Chair (Caversham) Richard Davies
Vice-Chair (Peppard) Mandy Champion
Vice-Chair (Thames & Mapledurham) Adele Barnett-Ward
Organiser Duncan Bruce
Events & Fundraisingr Sara Fullbrook

Meetings are usually held on the second Thursday of every month and our regular meeting place is the upstairs meeting room at the Griffin public house on Church Road, Caversham starting at 8pm. The aim of the meetings is for members to be kept abreast of, and get involved in, local issues and campaigning and for discussions to take place about national and international issues.

The next meeting is on the 8th February to elect a new Chair.

The venue for all will be the Griffin and meetings will commence at 8pm.


Individual Wards

Peppard Ward

Peppard Ward has a population of just over 9,500, an electorate of around 7,500 and 4,000 dwellings (most commonly semi-detached). It is currently represented by three Conservative councillors though in the past it has had Liberal Democrat representation. With the collapse in Liberal Democrat support it is a ward that with a strong campaign could be a Labour target seat.

Peppard is the Reading ward most significantly affected by the possible closure of Chiltern Edge secondary school in adjoining South Oxfordshire and this is a strong campaigning issue for our newly elected MP Matt Rodda , our Caversham councillors and the local party.


Thames Ward

Thames Ward has a population of around 9,750, an electorate of around 7,300 and about 3,800 dwellings (most commonly detached). It has always been represented by Conservative councillors apart from a brief period with two Independent Conservatives. There are however a significant number of Labour voters.

The ward is mostly residential, but also contains Highdown School and Sixth Form Centre as well as the green spaces of Albert Road Park, Balmore Walk and Bugs Bottom.


Mapledurham Ward

Mapledurham Ward was created relatively recently and is unique in Reading in only having one councillor (who has always been Conservative). It has a population of just over 3,000, an electorate of around 2,300 and just over 1,200 dwellings (most commonly larger detached). As with Thames Ward though, there is significant support for the Labour Party.

The ward includes Mapledurham Playing Fields, a small part of which is the planned location of The Heights Free School. This planned development is strongly opposed by a relatively small group of local residents and is consensually supported by the North of the River Labour Party.

Reading Borough Council is currently running a consultation on this and comments can be made online through their planning portal - the application number is 171023 and the address is Mapledurham Playing Fields, Upper Woodcote Road.


Caversham Ward

Caversham Ward covers the area in central Caversham, bordering the River Thames.  It includes the main Caversham shopping centre and the library
which is a grade II listed building dating from 1907 when Caversham was part of Oxfordshire.  There is a community centre, and three state primary schools - Caversham Primary School, Thameside Primary School and St Anne's Catholic school.  There is also a Children's Centre that houses part of a federated nursery with Newbridge.  About 9,700 people live in Caversham ward of whom 7,110 were eligible to vote in 2016.
 The ward has a range of household incomes and accomodation from the large Victorian villas on the Mount to the mainly housing association-owned estate off Amersham Road. As well as an extensive river front, Caversham has a number of parks including in Amersham Road, Westfield Road and Christchurch Meadows.
Best known is the historic Caversham Court Gardens which has achieved a national Green Flag award for 8 years in a row.
Caversham is a Labour-Conservative swing ward, which has been represented periodically by all Labour and all Conservative Councillors.  Currently, party representation is mixed with two Labour and one Conservative Councillor.
There is very active Labour membership in the ward and recent Labour campaigns have included supporting Chiltern Edge School which Oxfordshire County Council had threatened with closure; road safety and a 20 mph zone; supporting Caversham library and its Children's Centre and standing up for locals on issues like commuters parking and noise nuisance from open-air pop concerts.


Meet the Councillors

Please click on the photo of the councillor to view contact details.


07939 802833
0118 9372744

Peppard, Thames and Mapledurham do not have any Labour Councillors at this time.

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