About West Berkshire
Our Vision – “working together to make West Berkshire an even greater place in which to live, work and learn”
West Berkshire is an area which offers beautiful countryside, thriving market towns and good transport links to London and southern England. Covering 272 square miles, around 60% of our area is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and our countryside is as varied as it is plentiful. Around 40% of residents live in rural areas although there are plenty of opportunities for urban living as well. Newbury is the largest town in West Berkshire, although Hungerford, Pangbourne, Thatcham, Theale and Tilehurst are also significant communities along with suburbs bordering Reading in the east.
The district is widely recognised as an area with a high concentration of high-tech firms and is home to companies such as Norsk Data, Quantel, Vodafone and the Atomic Weapons Establishment. West Berkshire has a thriving economy with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, and is at the hub of what is often called 'Silicon Valley’.
West Berkshire Council provides important local services for around 155,000 people across the district. We provide education, housing and social services; we're responsible for roads in the area and we provide rubbish, recycling and other waste services.
The role of this Council is more complex than ever with increasing pressures placed on us in looking after the most vulnerable in our society. Like all other Councils we face significant financial challenges because of the Government’s austerity measures which have placed unprecedented pressure on public sector finances. Over the last three years the Council has had to save in excess of £24 million, with the revenue support grant which the Council receives from Central Government having reduced from £16.3 million in 2015/16 to £0.1 million by 2019/20.
Despite the high demand for our services with depleting resources the Council has had some notable successes over the last year. These include:
- Better safeguarding services for children and young people: these were rated ‘good’ by Ofsted in 2017;
- Supporting our schools to improve: more than 95% are now assessed as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’;
- Investing in the District’s roads: the A339/London Road Industrial Estate junction improvement is one example of enhancements of local roads;
- Completing 62 flood alleviation schemes.
As we enter the last year of this Council Strategy we will continue to focus on our priority areas for improvement whilst continuing to deliver the core services that you value so much.
We have identified six priority areas for improvement:
- Improve educational attainment
- Close the educational attainment gap
- Enable the completion of more affordable housing
- Deliver or enable key infrastructure improvements in relation to roads, rail, flood prevention, regeneration and the digital economy
- Good at safeguarding children and vulnerable adults
- Support communities to do more to help themselves
We also provide hundreds of local services across the District such as rubbish and recycling collections, street cleaning, planning, environmental health, housing, adult social care, children’s and leisure services.
For more information on West Berkshire’s Refreshed Council Strategy for 2018/19, please find the attached document.