Review of 2022 by Councillor Lynne Doherty, Leader of West Berkshire Council

Lynne Doherty, Leader of West Berkshire Council

On 5 January 2023, Penny Post received from Council Leader Lynne Doherty a summary of West Berkshire Council’s achievements in 2022 under the headline “Making West Berkshire a great place to live.” We’re happy to publish it here verbatim.

“As one year ends and another starts,” she added, “it is natural to look back to see what you have achieved here at West Berkshire Council. I am proud to say a lot! This review demonstrates our continued delivery against our Council Strategy 2019 to 2023, Building on our Strengths. It highlights the many areas that local government is involved in and how we make a real difference to our residents’ lives here in West Berkshire. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have made this possible. As we enter 2023 we will continue to strive to deliver for all of our residents and I would like to wish everybody a happy new year.”

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We Care for our Communities

Our Offers of Support

  • Distributed ARG grants of up to £25,000 to support green growth & recovery to 44 businesses
  • Support for vulnerable over holiday periods – including holiday and food activities, free school meal vouchers and distribution of Household Grants.
    • £17,000 distributed to charities from West Berkshire Community Fund.
    • £4,500 to Swings and Smiles – a contribution towards the cost of a wheelchair-accessible roundabout for its outdoor play area.
    • £3,000 to Time to Talk – a contribution towards a counselling course which over six months will provide free counselling for up to 18 parents.
    • £3,000 to the 3rd Newbury Scout Group to help make its @TheDen building more accessible to disabled members through installing new wheelchair-friendly paths.
    • £2,500 to The Downs School – funding to purchase a high jump bed to support its PE activities.
    • £1,635 to St Mark’s Church of England Schools Association to buy recycled plastic benches so that pupils can eat lunch outside.
    • £1,000 to Citizens Advice West Berkshire – funding towards the cost of its Spending Diaries and Financial Capability support provided to clients on low incomes.
    • £1,000 to City Arts Newbury – funding for two ten-week art courses for mums and carers with young children, and one to bring together elderly and vulnerable residents together.
    • £500 to The Friends of Chilton Foliat Primary School – a contribution towards the non-statutory provision of a forest school in the outdoor area providing activities such as den building, outdoor cooking and mini-beast hunts.
  • Free Bus travel over Easter weekend, Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, World Car Free Day and Christmas, including return journeys following feedback from users.
  • Launched new website to support businesses in West Berkshire.
  • Funded a new Community bus for Thatcham and Newbury
  • Approved £100,000 of Member’s Bid Funding.
  • Introduced a new Connect Group Day Ticket for up to four people to travel together on the bus: £10.00 for an Urban ticket and £16.50 for a Rural ticket.
  • Launched a £100,000 Emergency Cost of Living Crisis Fund to help charities with the Greenham Trust.
  • 3 rounds of funding for Community CIL Bids, to go towards community projects.
  • Launched a Cost of Living Hub.
  • Launched Sustainable Warmth Scheme to help make homes cheaper, warmer and greener through funded energy-saving improvements.
  • West Berkshire’s Giving Tree brought Christmas to those in need.

Our Strategies and Reviews

  • West Berkshire Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation Strategy 2021-23.
  • West Berkshire Local Flood Risk Management Strategy 2022-2027.
  • West Berkshire Enhanced Partnership Plan and Scheme.
  • Leisure Strategy.
  • First Homes policy
  • Improvement Plan for the review of Town and Parish Engagement.
  • Strategic Asset Plan (SAP).
  • Adult Social Care Strategy.
  • Co-Production Framework.
  • Compton Neighbourhood Development Plan.
  • Newbury Masterplan.
  • Flood Risk Management Strategy.

We Take Action and Deliver

On the Environment and Transport

  • A successful Emergency Planning response to storms.
  • Joined LAs UK100 Climate Network.
  • £280,000 of Active Travel Funding for walking and cycling improvements along the B4000 between Stockcross and the A4/A34 junction.
  • Two new mini recycling centres in the district. One in East Garston (in the overflow car park for the Queens Arms, RG17 7ER), and one at the end of Theale High Street, RG7 5AR.
  • Launched a Paint Re-use service.
  • Annual Report on Environment Strategy showed good progress.
  • eCargo bikes offered to local businesses in the district for low carbon deliveries.
  • Introduction of dual use bins in Almond Avenue/Shaw Riverside, Linear Park, Northcroft and Goldwell Parks and Snelsmore Common.
  • Ran a free coil conditioner give-away.

On Education and Children

  • ‘Engaging Potential’and iCollege, rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted.
  • WBC Children’s Services rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted.
  • Almost 98% of Year 6 children in West Berkshire have been offered one of their secondary school preferences and 94% of Primary children got their 1st choice of schools.
  • New Keevil Unit for children with disabilities at Speenhamland Primary School opened.
  • Hosted another successful Summer Reading Challenge for children and adults which over 3,000 children took part in.
  • Parsons Down Partnership of Schools opened.
  • Cycle Skills Training made available to help children get out and about on their bikes and build up their confidence.

On Health and Social Care

  • Hosted a Health & Wellbeing Conference.
  • Rolled out Wellbeing Passports for Primary Schools.

On Digital, Leisure, and Culture

  • Opened the green space to public at Faraday Road.
  • Berkshire was one of only eight successful bidders nationally to receive £500,000 to help improve mobile infrastructure across the region by working with mobile partners.
  • Opened a full size 3G playing pitch at Denefield School in Tilehurst.
  • Northcroft Lido renovation approved.
  • West Berkshire to receive an allocation of £1m from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to help level up our communities.
  • Celebrated HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
  • Commemorated the death of HM The Queen and the Accession of King Charles III.

On the Economy

  • New approach to LRIE announced.
  • All commercial space at 4 The Sector in Newbury has now been let.
  • Passed another balanced Budget.
  • Named as being among the country’s top-10 districts to provide value for money – according to independent research.

To support those facing crisis at home and abroad

  • Rough sleeper numbers are at all-time low – 0.
  • Ukraine Support Hub and Appeal launched.

We Engage with the Public

Our Communications and Campaigns

  • Drink-spiking Awareness Campaign.
  • Women in Politics – encouraging women to stand for election.
  • Great British Spring Clean.
  • Stamp Out Fly Tipping.
  • Support for fostering within West Berkshire.
  • Damp and Mould guidance – to keep homes ventilated and safe.
  • Made With Care – to encourage people to consider jobs in Social Care.

Our Consultations

  • School Streets Schemes – the Calcot Schools.
  • Active Travel Schemes to help the people of West Berkshire walk and cycle more.
  • Proposed School Term and Holiday Dates.
  • Proposed changes to the capacity and designation of the Castle School to operate a satellite site at Theale.
  • Proposed Admission Arrangements 2023/24 for Community and Voluntary Controlled Schools.
  • Variation of the West Berkshire Council Street Works Permit.
  • Berkshire Digital Infrastructure Group.
  • 2023 Review of Parliamentary constituencies.
  • Proposal to introduce a new Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in Thatcham Town Centre.
  • Proposal for a New Sports Pitch at Manor Park, Newbury.
  • The Future of Notrees Care Home, Kintbury.
  • Community and Strategic Digital Signposting for West Berkshire.
  • Separate Weekly Food Waste Collection Service.
  • Community Governance Review for Greenham Parish 2022.
  • Website Structure Review.
  • Draft Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy 2022-2027.
  • Moving Traffic Offences.
  • Help with Numeracy.
  • Lawrence’s Lane, Thatcham / Cold Ash – Prohibition of Motor Vehicles (Experimental Order).
  • Proposed Development of a SEMH Unit for 12 Children at Kennet Valley School.
  • Station Road, Newbury – Prohibition of Motor Vehicles (Experimental Order).
  • Community Orchard at Almond Avenue Open Space, Newbury.
  • 2023 Review of Parliamentary Constituencies.

We are recognised for our excellence

  • West Berkshire Council has been shortlisted for three awards by the Local Government Chronicle.
  • Northcroft and Goldwell Parks in Newbury received a Green Flag alongside Linear Park in Calcot.

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