Wokingham to unite with Berkshire councils in devolution deal

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Wokingham Borough Council's Shut End offices

WOKINGHAM may join the rest of Berkshire in a county-wide devolution deal with the Government.

The six unitary authorities agreed on Thursday, September 16, to submit an expression of interest in uniting.

If approved, it would create a leadership committee with representatives from Wokingham, Bracknell Forest, Reading, Windsor and Maidenhead, West Berkshire and Slough.

John Halsall, leader of Wokingham Borough Council, said the partnership is worth considering as it could bring greater investment to the area to support residents and businesses.

“We are in the early stages of exploring the option of securing a county deal to support investment in the economy and infrastructure of the county, and have agreed to have an exploratory discussion with central Government,” he explained.

“As I have said before, Wokingham Borough Council exists purely for the benefit of its residents – and so the decision to proceed with this deal or not will be based purely on whether it is a good thing for the community.”

In an interview with the Local Government Chronicle, West Berkshire Council leader Lynne Doherty said the six councils are already working collaboratively, with a focus on economic growth.

Cllr Doherty said: “This is not about creating a needless combined authority or directly elected mayor, which would simply bring an additional level of administration and cost, it is about how we can support strategic investment benefitting all council areas, our residents and businesses.”

Four of the councils are Conservative-led, with Reading and Slough both led by Labour councils.

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