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Berkshire Prosperity Board - first meeting of Berkshire’s unitary authorities has been held

The first Berkshire Prosperity Board meeting has been held today (Monday).

The new joint committee is made up of the six Berkshire unitary authorities – West Berkshire, Reading, Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham and Bracknell Forest.

The councils have committed to working together to drive and deliver economic prosperity across the county with the aim of securing more funding, creating more jobs and enabling more affordable housing for residents.

The board said that working together will also help the authorities seize opportunities to promote Berkshire to investors, businesses and central government.

The first meeting provided the background to the creation of the board, set out its work streams and received an update on the development of the Berkshire Economic Development Strategy.

The meeting was held at Wokingham Borough Council offices in Shute End from midday until 2pm.

Nigel Lynn, chief executive of West Berkshire Council, said: “This new cross-Berkshire group aligns very well with our priority to deliver a prosperous and resilient West Berkshire.

“We recognise that we will be stronger by working together collaboratively to attract investment, deliver infrastructure and tackle issues such as affordable housing and net zero which are important to all our communities.

“I look forward to this, as it will enable us to build on the legacy of the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.”

Susan Halliwell, chief executive of Bracknell Forest Council, said: “Berkshire has played a hugely significant role in driving the UK’s economy over recent years.

“We may live in an area that has a history of being very prosperous, but we’re not immune to the impact of national and global events, which have impacted the local job, housing, and business sectors.

“Therefore, it is important that we look to continue to bring more economic opportunities to the area and break down barriers in building on the prosperity of Berkshire as a whole.”

Jackie Yates, chief executive of Reading Borough Council, added: “By working collaboratively we will be in a much stronger position to tackle those challenges we all face, and put us in a better position when applying for funding and investment opportunities from Government.

“Berkshire is not immune to the challenges of economic growth and many residents are facing increasing living costs. By working together we can build on our existing good working relationships and provide a better Berkshire for all our residents.”

Stephen Evans, chief executive of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, said: “Berkshire’s economic success is of shared interest across local authority boundaries, and it is vital that we take every opportunity to work closely with our neighbours. Together we have a stronger voice, and can better support our local economies for the benefit of our residents and businesses.”

Will Tuckley, chief executive of Slough Borough Council, added: “The first meeting represents an important step in our collective efforts to work collaboratively in expanding economic opportunities in our local area, and to drive growth.

“It will be an important platform for the authorities to tackle the challenges which we face, and to lobby for wider investment in the area. I am sure that the Berkshire Prosperity Board will provide economic benefits to our residents in Slough, and the wider Berkshire area, and enable us to capitalise on the strengths of the local Berkshire economy.”

Susan Parsonage, chief executive of Wokingham Borough Council, said: “We have been working together for the last few months to prepare the way for the Berkshire Prosperity Board.

“We believe that the Board will give us a stronger voice than we have as individual councils and will increase our chances of securing external funding for infrastructure projects and other initiatives that will help the development of the Berkshire economy.

“We see this is an important step that will help generate jobs, help address the climate emergency, and help deliver more much-needed affordable housing.”

The next meeting will be held on September 16.

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