- We work collectively with all our Conservative Members to ensure that we deliver the promises that we made and that are laid out within this Council’s current Strategy.
- Now is the time to make the changes necessary to continue to focus on our resident’s priorities and make further improvements to ensure that West Berkshire remains a great place to live, work and learn.
- Ensuring infrastructure supports development and development supports infrastructure creates a vision of place shaping that can result in healthier happy people.
- An efficient and effective Local Authority fit for the future with transformation at its heart to innovate and drive customer focus.
At the Annual Council Meeting, Leader Cllr Lynne Doherty (Newbury Speen) took the opportunity to thank Portfolio Holders for all their support and work over the last year. She said “as a team we work collectively with all our Conservative Members to ensure that we deliver the promises that we made to our residents in our 2019 manifesto.”
The meeting saw the mid-term review of the Council Strategy and Cllr Doherty reflected with pride on the progress made despite the need to respond to the global coronavirus crisis. Responding to Covid-19 has meant additional pressures in every service area and adjustments to enable vital work to support communities.
Thanking her portfolio holders for their input during the past two years she announced the portfolio holder changes she felt necessary to enable the focus to remain on resident’s priorities and make further improvements to ensure that West Berkshire remains a great place to live, work and learn.
A few weeks ago, ahead of the Annual Council Meeting changes were made to the People Directorate in terms of Portfolios, primarily driven by the changing Health Agenda.
Announcing changes now being made to the Place Directorate Cllr Doherty said “having spent the last two years listening to both our Parishes and our residents on the importance of place, place shaping is now very clear in my mind. Ensuring infrastructure supports development and development supports infrastructure creates a vision of place shaping that can result, if done right, in healthier happy people.”
The importance of getting this right has resulted in the opportunity to restructure her Executive and Cllr Doherty outlined how she intended to bring both Planning and Transport under one Portfolio Holder to ensure a holistic view of Place Shaping for the coming years. Councillor Richard Somner (Tilehurst South & Holybrook) has agreed to take on this challenge and will take this role going forward.
Thanking Cllr Hilary Cole (Chieveley & Cold Ash) for all the work she has done within the Planning and Development portfolio since 2016, she continued by stating “Planning by its very nature is by far the most contentious area of the Council. Hilary has been an absolute stalwart over the years in taking all of that in her stride, and prioritizing the need to deliver against policy to ensure that we ultimately protect tax payer’s money from the lengthy appeals process, and ensuring we are a plan led authority as opposed to letting uncontrolled development have a negative impact on our beautiful district.”
Cllr Cole while retaining Housing and Strategic Partnerships will take on a new responsibility, that of Transformation.
For several years now we have been looking at new ways of working to ensure we remain an efficient and effective Local Authority fit for the future, as we move out of Covid and towards recovery the need to drive this agenda across all Directorates becomes ever more pressing. Therefore to ensure this focus and drive Hilary will be the portfolio holder for Transformation utilising her many years of Council experience with her desire to innovate and drive customer focus.
Wishing both Cllr Somner & Cllr Cole every success in their new areas she added her special thanks to Cllr Graham Bridgman (Burghfield Mortimer) who not only recently took on Health and Wellbeing, a challenging new Portfolio, but remains her Deputy.
She said “I am always so grateful for his support and guidance, our minds work in very different ways but I like to think they complement one another and I could not have got through the last year without his constant presence.”