Councillor Tony Page, who became Mayor of Reading this year, will retire from local politics at the next elections in May 2024.
Breaking the news to his Labour colleagues, Cllr Page said: “It has been a huge honour and privilege to have represented the town centre area for more than 50 years.
“The changes have been enormous and hugely positive, although many challenges still remain for younger members of the Council!
Speaking to Labour Abbey Branch, he said: “Reading Labour have made great strides in key issues, like addressing the climate crisis and building more affordable housing, but the town needs a Labour government more than ever to help us realise our ambitions for the community.”
Cllr Page has had a busy year as Mayor – opening Green Park railway station, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Reading Bridge, and visiting Reading’s twin Dusseldorf in Germany for the Invictus Games.
He was first elected at the age of 19 in Reading as a councillor for the-now abolished Castle ward in 1973.
His long-spanning career has seen big changes in the town, such as the opening of The Oracle shopping centre and major upgrades to the main train station in 2014.
Cllr Page also presided over improvements to bus services as a chairman of Reading Buses.
When he became Mayor at a full council meeting in May, he reflected on the introduction of Christchurch Bridge between Reading and Caversham in 2015, and ongoing progress for the Station Hill development.
Cllr Page attended the topping out ceremony for the massive One Station Hill offices in the summer. Prior to becoming Mayor in March, he visited Reading, Pennsylvania in the USA to celebrate that city’s 275th anniversary, with £2099.91 of council money being spent on his flights.
Paying tribute to his tenure, Matt Rodda, the Labour MP for Reading East said: “Tony Page has made an incredible contribution during his 50 years’ service on Reading Borough Council.
“He played a key role in transport and planning over many years and has been a dedicated ward councillor, representing local residents in the town centre
“Tony is also well known throughout Berkshire and across the country as a leading figure in local Government, he has played an important role in the Local Government Association.
“He also served as a special advisor to the former Labour MP and now member of the House of Lords, Jack Cunningham, when Lord Cunningham Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment in the 1980s.”
Following cllr Page’s decision to retire, the Abbey Branch Labour Party has selected Baker Street resident, former Mayor and councillor David Stevens as a candidate in Abbey next May.
Cllr Page said: “I very much welcome David’s selection as the Labour candidate to replace me.
“His many previous years’ service on Reading Council will mean that he brings considerable experience to the job, and will be able to ‘hit the ground running’.
“I know he will work well and closely with my other two Abbey colleagues, Cllrs Karen Rowland and Mohammed Ayub.”
Mr Stevens served as Mayor from May 2020 to November 2021.
In 2022, Mr Stevens defected from the Conservative Party to Labour.
He subsequently stood as a Labour candidate for Kentwood ward in Tilehurst in the all-out council election that year, but failed to get elected, coming in fifth place.