Recently named the second-fastest growing city in the UK, and already a regional powerhouse, Reading’s forward momentum is remarkable. Road and rail connections are excellent, with access to the motorway network, Heathrow, central London and the City; and this will only improve when Crossrail arrives in 2019. Around an already thriving retail heart, our new Abbey business quarter has opened up a hidden heritage gem in the middle of Reading, and we’re committed to enhancing our cultural infrastructure. We’ve the 7th highest employment rate in the UK, the working population is the 6th most well-educated, and the average weekly salary is 18% above the national average. Extensive new housing of all tenures (including through our own housing company), and a flourishing university complete the picture for inward investors.
We’re proud that the Council, through our Team Reading approach, is driving much of this transformation.
By working together we ensure the focus remains on making real differences, so that our residents see a difference when they use our services. Despite having delivered £80m of savings so far, we’re on track to achieve a further £43m of efficiencies by 2020. We plan to deliver a £122m capital programme to provide new school places, homes, transport infrastructure and investment. Our new children’s services company - Brighter Futures for Children - launched at the end of November, and we are determined to ensure that our growth is good growth: low carbon, sustainable and - most important of all - to the benefit of local people.
Reading Borough Council is determined to thrive as an organisation, so that it can led the way in helping to shape Reading’s future. The Council has a long track record of being ambitious for Reading’s success, even where there are challenges. The Council is adapting and improving to meet these challenges, against a familiar backdrop of austerity and a growth in demand for services. You can read our new Corporate Plan here.
The authority is Labour controlled (31 of 46 elected members). Councillor Jo Lovelock (Labour) is the Leader of the Council. Peter Sloman has been the Chief Executive since July 2017, following nearly a decade as Chief Executive at Oxford City Council where it received the LGA Council of the Year award.
Quality of life is high in Reading and it also has a high performing economy. It is one of the most diverse populations in the South East outside London with a history of strong and cohesive neighbourhoods. It has a rich, but sometimes hidden, history and heritage and a thriving arts and cultural offer.
At the same time Reading is the 4th most unequal UK city. This means certain resident groups are being left behind and not benefiting from our successful economy. There is rising demand for services to support and protect older and vulnerable people and children at risk, which has had a big impact on our budgets at a time when funding is reducing. This means balancing the Council’s budget has been difficult, and has required the Council to produce and implement robust plans to deliver its Medium Term Financial Strategy.
In 2017/18 the Council worked with partners at Reading University and businesses to develop a new Reading 2050 vision document which was launched in October following an extensive period of development and consultation by the three influential local organisations: Reading UK, Reading University and Barton Willmore. This sets out a shared view of key priorities for the future of Reading.
The partnership has also recently published a guide to living and working in Reading, called Move To Reading, which can be downloaded here.
The Council has endorsed this vision and, in its role as community leader, wants to work alongside other agencies and organisations to realise the vision’s ambitions. Its vision is to: