Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 16:28 UK

Reading West candidates say economy is priority

Naz Sarkar, Alok Sharma and Daisy Benson
Mr Sarkar, Mr Sharma and Ms Benson are running for the Reading West seat

The parliamentary candidates for Reading West have said the struggling economy is their priority.

The seat has been held by Labour MP Martin Salter since 1997 but he is now stepping down. Before that it was held by Conservative MP Tony Durant.

Reading West is now set to become one of this election's highly contested seats.

Liberal Democrat Daisy Benson, Conservative Alok Sharma and Labour's Naz Sarkar are running for it.

UKIP candidate Bruce Hay and Adrian Windisch from the Green Party are also standing for the seat.

Recession fears

Labour's Mr Sarkar said: "People recognise that it's a global recession. People here in Reading recognise that they have done okay out of it and they are carrying on. The unemployment rate here is low.

"They recognise that the Tories could well take us back into that recession and they're scared about that prospect."

But Ms Benson, of the Liberal Democrats, and the Tories' Mr Sharma said people in Reading had been badly affected by the recession.

Ms Benson said: "Many people have really struggled in this recession in Reading.

"I think people see complacency from Labour and they're fearful of the Conservatives because they see tax cuts before actually dealing with the real problems of the economy."

Mr Sharma said: "The recession hasn't passed us by. We've got shops that have closed, unemployment's gone up and businesses have folded.

"What we're hearing from people on the doorstep, whether they're hard-working families or individuals or pensioners, is that they really are feeling the pinch."

Mr Windish agreed that the recession had affected many people in Reading West.

He said: "The government has invested enormous amounts in propping up the economy to varying levels of success.

"What the Greens would do would be to invest in green jobs and invest in insulating houses, which would not only create thousands of new jobs but also reduce emissions."

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