Clive Taylor was elected as one of the two ward members for Tilehurst Birch Copse in May 2023 and has the distinction of being the first member of the Labour Party to gain a seat on West Berkshire Council since its creation in 1998. It was a close-run affair, mind you, as he won by only one vote, defeating one of the incumbents, Tony Linden. Penny Post caught up with Clive to ask him a few questions about his background, his hopes and the challenges which he feel the district faces, all leading up to the all-important matters of his desert-island choices of record (of which I thoroughly approve), book and luxury item…
Tell us a bit about what jobs you have done, or still do.
I spent most of my working life in the information technology and telecoms industries, working in a variety of roles including logistics, customer services, quality management, project management and finally operations management. I “retired” as an employee when I was 53 having formed a business buying and selling vinyl records, which I still run now.
Have you been a councillor before, at any level?
Yes, I have been a parish councillor for eight years and was elected as Chairman of Tilehurst Parish Council in May 2023, having previously served as Vice Chair for four years. I am a member of four Parish Council sub-committees or working parties covering communications, neighbourhood planning and staffing, youth and community.
What made you want to stand as a councillor in West Berkshire?
That goes back many years to when I first decided to stand in the Tilehurst Birch Copse ward, really to keep the Labour flag flying in the marginal parliamentary seat of Reading West. I stood as a candidate in this ward several times and on becoming a Parish Councillor in 2015 realised the importance of the district council. I then started to campaign with increasing interest in becoming a District Councillor.
Labour has never done very well in the district: indeed, you’re the first Labour member to be elected to WBC. I imagine you must feel a certain amount of pride at this achievement…
Yes, definitely. It took many years of hard work on Tilehurst Parish Council and in campaigning on issues that mattered to residents and that finally paid off.
How are you finding it being the only representative of your party on WBC? Not too lonely, I trust?
Certainly not lonely! I knew several councillors already and since being elected have had a good working relationship with the two Green councillors as well as with Joanne Stewart who also represents the Tilehurst Birch Copse ward.
You are one of the two members (the other being the above-mentioned Conservative Joanne Stewart) representing Tilehurst Birch Copse. This is in the extreme east of the district. Some feel that outlying areas suffer as a result of their distance from the centre. Do you think this is fair?
I think there is some truth in that and without doubt there is a perception amongst many that the”extreme east” of West Berkshire gets overlooked as it can supposedly rely on Reading for many of its services.
What do you think are the main problems that West Berkshire currently faces?
I think housing is a major issue for various reasons. The cost is beyond the reach of many and that applies to renting as well. Even so-called “affordable housing” is too expensive for a lot of people. There is then the question of where to build, with so much of West Berkshire being AONB, in flood plains or subject other restrictions. There is also a conflict between the need to build more and the protection of green space. This leads to very difficult decision-making, which I am all to familiar with in areas like Tilehurst.
What will you try to do to solve these?
I’m involved in the neighbourhood development plan for Tilehurst parish so can have some influence on what happens in my ward. I’ll also take a close interest in how the West Berkshire local plan develops and see if I can influence change, but I realise that may be difficult being very much the minority party. Changes to housing policies need to be led by central government so I’ll also be campaigning for a Labour victory in the General Election in the new Reading West and Mid Berkshire seat.
If you had the power to do this, what would be the one thing you’d change about how local councils operate?
I’d like to see far greater co-operation between parish councils and the higher tier council. In the eastern area around Reading, for example, you could hold forums covering several parishes and West Berkshire Council and the wider public and that might lead to better services overall.
Whether or not you intend to stand again in 2027, how would you like to be remembered as a councillor?
It might seem a cliché, but as someone who got things done, for the benefit of those that I represent, such as the restoration of youth services across West Berkshire.
Imagine for a moment, if you can, that I’m Lauren Laverne and this is Desert Island Discs. What would be your one must-have record?
The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street.
Excellent choice: so excellent, in fact, that I’ll ask Lauren if you can have the whole double LP rather than the conventional one song. And your book?
When Reading Really Rocked by Adrian Moulton.
And your luxury object?
A wind-up radio.
All granted, no problem – and Lauren Laverne has OK-ed Exile on Main Street. Enjoy your own exile on the island…