Berkshire

Call to end free councillor Reading Festival tickets

A councillor has called for an end to "gravy train" freebies after Reading Festival tickets were offered to him and his colleagues.

Reading council is given an allocated set for the three-day music festival which takes place later this month.

Last year 23 members took up the offer, but Green councillor Rob White wants an end to the practice.

Festival organisers said councillors who claimed weekend tickets, worth £180 each, had to donate £30 to charity.

A Reading Borough Council spokeswoman said: "Festival tickets are a gift which councillors must declare, and all declared councillor gifts are reported to the council's standards committee, every July.

"Any gifts accepted are shown on each councillor's register of interests - both of these documents are on the website. "

Thousands of music lovers descend on the town for the annual music festival, which this year takes place between 27 and 29 August.

Headline acts include rockers Guns N'Roses, Arcade Fire and Blink 182.

Councillors must inform officials by 24 August if they want to attend, a memo said.

Two tickets can be claimed, although the allocation given to the council means not all 46 councillors can take a guest.

Event organisers Festival Republic said there was a compulsory charity donation of £30 for councillors attending the weekend with complimentary tickets, or £15 for those who go for one day.

Mr White, who was elected a councillor earlier this year, said he had been to the festival when he was was younger and it was good for the town.

"Whilst I support Reading Festival, I didn't seek to be elected to get aboard a gravy train," he added.

"I don't see what it is apart from being a jolly. We are not going there with any specific objectives."

Festival Republic declined to comment.

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