Unemployment down and footfall up
But road deaths in West Berkshire are at a three year high, council report reveals
FOOTFALL in Newbury is up and unemployment in the district is down, but the number of people killed or seriously injured on West Berkshire’s roads is at a three-year high.
The latest figures were revealed in West Berkshire Council’s Quarter Three Key Accountable Measures report, which monitors the district’s economy and how it is performing in 27 different key areas.
The statistics show that 23 people were either killed or seriously injured on the district’s roads in the second quarter of 2015/16, a 10 per cent increase on the second quarter of the previous financial year.
But there were plenty of positives in the report, too – with the number of crimes reported to Thames Valley Police down by 12 per cent and the number of people claiming job seekers’ allowance continuing to fall.
There has been a four per cent rise in the number of businesses registered, while the number of people visiting Newbury town centre was also on the up.
The footfall data shows that on average, 198,184 people a week visited Newbury town centre during the second quarter of 2015/16, 5,000 a week more than the previous quarter.
In total, 616 new homes have been built in the district in the past year.
However, just 16 affordable homes were completed in the third quarter of 2015/16 – 85 per cent fewer than the third quarter of 2014/15.
And, although the council has made significant cuts to bus subsidies over the past few years, the number of bus journeys starting in West Berkshire was actually on the up.
More than 2.52m journeys started in the district in 2014/15 compared with 2.48m in 2013/14.
The 886 planning applications received in quarter three of 2015/16 was three per cent lower than the 916 the council received in the third quarter of 2014/15.
According to the report, the number of visits to West Berkshire libraries was down by nine per cent.
These figures come just weeks after the council approved plans to close two of the district’s nine branch libraries.
The number of alcohol-related hospital admissions in West Berkshire (measured per 100,000) was rising faster, but was still below the national average.
Requests made to the council under the Freedom of Information Act have fallen slightly compared with the same period in 2014/15.
Councillor Alan Law, West Berkshire Council’s executive member for planning, regeneration and economic development, described the report as positive and argued that West Berkshire was one of the five most prosperous areas in the country in terms of economic growth.
Marked on a traffic light system, of the 27 key measures in the report, 19 (79 per cent) were reported as green – on track to be delivered/achieved by year end.
Four (17 per cent) were reported as amber – behind schedule, but still expected to be achieved or completed by year end.
Only one measure (four per cent) was reported as red – not achieved, or not expected to be achieved within the year.
For the one red indicator (Good at Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults) the target required 90 per cent of single assessments to be completed within 45 working days. The council finished the year on 79.1 per cent.
However, this was still above the 76 per cent average in the South East.