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West Berkshire Council chief executive Nick Carter retires



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WEST Berkshire Council's chief executive, Nick Carter, stood down yesterday (Thursday) after 23 years – 16 of them as its chief executive.

Mr Carter joined West Berkshire Council following the break up of Berkshire County Council and the reorganising of Newbury District Council in 1998.

He joined from Swindon Borough Council as head of corporate policy at the newly-formed West Berkshire District Council, becoming a corporate director in 2002 and chief executive in 2005.

Nick Carter, Chief Exec, Last Week in Job....Ref: 31-1621. (49890098)
Nick Carter, Chief Exec, Last Week in Job....Ref: 31-1621. (49890098)

Top of his to do list in 1998 was "quite a lot of work creating the new authority – policies and procedures for a new unitary authority".

"We were starting from scratch. I spent a lot of my time doing this work. It’s a big organisation so I had a lot to do."

Mr Carter was known for driving forward the Newbury Vision 2025, which included pedestrianising Market Place and Northbrook Street, moving the bus station to the Wharf, the 'urban village' at Market Street and building Parkway Shopping.

The vision came against the backdrop of Newbury falling down national retail rankings and a warning that the town would die if it did not change.

Nick Carter, Chief Exec, Last Week in Job....Ref: 31-1621. (49890120)
Nick Carter, Chief Exec, Last Week in Job....Ref: 31-1621. (49890120)

Mr Carter said: "I think one of the success behind Newbury Vision was that everyone accepted that things had to change and something needed to be done to bring a much better retail offering to the town.

"There were very few people who argued against the concept of having Parkway.

"There was more concern about traffic, it was shortly after the bypass opened and we had the opportunity to open up the town centre as retail in Newbury was declining. There was less traffic on A339, it has built up a bit since then."

The town centre is going through another change following the coronavirus pandemic and the council has commissioned a masterplan to improve its use.

Mr Carter said the town centre would need to offer more than retail, with other councils offering more leisure activities.

Nick Carter, Chief Exec, Last Week in Job....Ref: 31-1621. (49890119)
Nick Carter, Chief Exec, Last Week in Job....Ref: 31-1621. (49890119)

He said: "One of the great things about Newbury is how close the countryside is, you can almost touch it.

"The Newbury offer will need to play into the fact that you can walk out of the town centre along the canal into some beautiful countryside.

"We need to work out what that will be."

Mr Carter said it was disappointing that plans to redevelop the Wharf in the vision, as well as the London Road Industrial Estate, had not been achieved.

He said: "I think this is the one area that we have failed to pulled off, development of the Wharf.

"We got close to doing that but the council said 'we’re not going to put any council money into it."

Nick Carter, Chief Exec, Last Week in Job....Ref: 31-1621. (49890124)
Nick Carter, Chief Exec, Last Week in Job....Ref: 31-1621. (49890124)

He said redeveloping the area and removing the car parking to create a waterfront was "the obvious thing to do" and the Wharf "needed to be part of the leisure offer in Newbury".

Mr Carter will be replaced by Nigel Lynn in the autumn with the council's head of place, Susan Halliwell, serving as interim chief executive.

When asked if he would be leaving any advice, Mr Carter said: "I don’t feel that’s appropriate really. He will have his own ideas about Newbury and the council.

"The ideas need be from the next generation.

"I hope I have left it in a pretty good place. I’m certainly not leaving any pearls of wisdom."



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