Helen Belcher with the Reading West and Mid Berkshire Liberal Democrats https://www.wbld.org.uk/donate/Mid-Berkshire

Helen Belcher for Reading West and Mid Berkshire

About Helen

The Reading and West Berkshire & Newbury Liberal Democrats are delighted to announce that our candidate in Reading West and Mid Berkshire is Helen Belcher.

Helen was born in west Reading and grew up in this constituency, in Burghfield Common.  She is a widely-acclaimed campaigner and has stood for election for the Liberal Democrats before in Berkshire and in Wiltshire, where she has campaigned for strong local services and environmental issues, taking stands against Conservative cuts, the dumping of sewage, and the Conservatives' culture war.  She was appointed OBE in the New Year's Honours List in 2023 for services to the transgender community.

Commenting on her selection, Helen said:

“I grew up in this constituency, so in many ways this is a homecoming for me.  I’m delighted to have this amazing opportunity to represent this beautiful area.  For too long, people in our area have been abandoned by the Conservatives, with public services cut to the bone, threats to close our ticket offices, difficulty accessing timely healthcare, and sewage streaming into the Pang, the Kennet and the Thames.  The people of Reading West and Mid Berkshire need a local champion who is vocal and visible, addressing the issues they care about - not more Conservative chaos, creating invisible enemies to distract from their many failures.”

Helen was a secondary school teacher in Leeds before moving into IT as a systems analyst.  After working in Yorkshire, Scotland and Berkshire, she started her own computing company in 2004, ending up employing around a dozen staff and providing innovative solutions to FTSE 100 companies.  She sold the company in 2019 to concentrate on campaigning.  She has many varied experiences, including writing for Byline Times, with a strong record of listening and then delivering practical solutions.  She understands the demands on schools, parents and on small businesses.  Helen is very different from your normal politician, and has been described in Newbury Today as “charming ... with a glint of steel in her eye”.

Helen Belcher visiting Tilehurst water tower

Helen's priorities

Helen says, "I am ambitious for our area - there is huge potential here, and our area is hungry for change.

"My priorities are clear - sorting out the NHS, sorting out the economy, and sorting out the environment.  These go to the heart of the issues our people are facing and that are holding them back.  There are other areas, particularly around the culture wars and how we organise our country that I also think need addressing."

  • Sort out the NHS
    The NHS has been in a permanent state of crisis for years.  It's breaking at every level: key personnel aren't being paid enough, meaning that people leave the profession, which means the rest are overworked.  But there's a wider crisis at work: adult and social care is on its knees too.  Any medical professional will tell you that prevention is better than cure.  Helen will fight for a root-and-branch fix for our whole care and health system, including restoring NHS dentistry, putting mental and physical health on an equal footing, filling vacancies to cut waiting times, and working for better integration of our social care systems with the NHS.
  • Sort out the economy
    The cost-of-living crisis is bringing whole communities down.  Inflation is coming down but is still dangerously high.  For too many people, the country is fundamentally broken.  Helen will fight to restore fairness to the system, making the taxation system fairer, helping people by bringing down the cost of living, and investing in our country's crumbling infrastructure, which will also provide more and better jobs.
  • Sort out the environment
    The climate crisis is making itself felt through droughts, extinctions, and floods even before the water companies started pumping sewage into our rivers.  Helen will fight to reform water companies like Thames Water into public benefit companies, forcing them to invest in their networks and stop sewage dumping before they start paying millions of pounds in bonuses or dividends to their shareholders.  She will fight to halt the decline of our natural environment and ensure the UK recommits to CO2 reduction to protect the planet for future generations.

Other areas Helen cares about
Helen's background is as a campaigner for civil rights, first in the Leveson inquiry into press intrusion and phone hacking, and later for the rights of trans people, for which she was awarded an OBE in 2022.  Helen is passionate about the civil rights and freedoms that help define our society, and will be vigilant against attempts to roll them back.  She will fight for fair votes, ensuring that no-one has to vote tactically and all votes count equally.  She will fight to end the cynical culture wars funded by the far right, and stop the demonisation of minorities, refugees, and protestors.

You can find out more about the Liberal Democrat manifesto, which Helen is standing on, here.

About Reading West and Mid Berkshire

Reading West and Mid Berkshire is a beautiful and sprawling constituency containing landmarks such as Tilehurst Water Tower, Douai Abbey, Pangbourne Bridge and the North Wessex Downs Area of Natural Beauty.  Liberal Democrats are already hard at work representing it on both Reading and West Berkshire Councils - and Helen Belcher is ready to represent it in Parliament too.

The 2023 Boundary Review has created Reading West and Mid Berkshire as a new constituency incorporating parts of the former Reading West, Newbury, and Wokingham constituencies, although the vast majority comes from Newbury.  Stretching from Wantage Road in west Reading in the east to World's End deep in rural West Berkshire north of Newbury, it was the scene of a Liberal Democrat landslide in the 2023 local elections, which saw the Lib Dems take the largest number of councillors in the constituency and almost beat the Conservatives in share of the vote.

You can explore the Boundary Commission's interactive map of the new constituency here.

It's close in Reading West and Mid Berkshire

Across the new constituency, voters went to the polls in May 2023 - and it was very close between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.  Labour came a distant third, with the Greens fourth.

Adding up all the votes across the constituency, the Conservatives won 35% of the vote, the Liberal Democrats 34%, Labour 20% and the Greens 11%.  Labour did not even field a candidate in a quarter of the constituency's wards - the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives stood in every ward.  Only the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives were able to win right across the constituency, both in Reading and across West Berkshire.

It's clear that the race in Reading West and Mid Berkshire is between Helen and the Conservatives.  Every vote will count - but with your help, Helen can win.

Labour can't win here - but Helen can


Sign up to help Helen here!

In May 2023, the Conservatives got 35% of the vote, the Lib Dems 34%, Labour 20%, and the Greens 11%.  It's so close here!

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