The leader of Reading Borough Council has laid out his key priorities for what the council will be doing over the next year.

They include making sure major leisure and transport upgrades are completed on time and tackling inequality.

The priorities have been explained by councillor Jason Brock, the leader of the council, who selected the new administration team amongst Labour councillors earlier this month.

Cllr Brock (Labour, Southcote) said: “I’m really glad that we have assembled a talented front bench team, once they’re all approved in their positions we’re looking to push forward.

“We’ve got plenty to be getting on with, such as delivering our greater infrastructure projects, such as the new leisure centres, swimming pools and rail stations.

“We also want to push forward with plans to regenerate the Minster Quarter, refurbishing The Hexagon and our road resurfacing programme.”

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The first major upgrade project to be completed will be the Palmer Park swimming pool, which will be finished in Quarter 4 of this year.

Meanwhile, the Rivermead Leisure Complex swimming pool is due to open in Spring 2022, and the upgraded Reading West train station should be completed in Quarter 2 of 2023.

Also, the new Green Park station construction is being undertaken by Network Rail, with a hope that it can open as soon as possible.

Reading Chronicle: Councillor Jason Brock, the leader of Reading Borough Council. Credit: Reading Borough CouncilCouncillor Jason Brock, the leader of Reading Borough Council. Credit: Reading Borough Council

Cllr Brock continued: “Our overarching priority is both strengthening our community as we come out of lockdown and tackling inequalities, particularly economic, so everyone has an opportunity to share in our success.”

On the issue of inequality, the Labour election manifesto declares a goal to ‘promote our black community’s economic and educational outcomes.’

Earlier this year, the council released its ethnic minority pay gap which showed that Black people employed by the council earned less on average than their White colleagues, with those from Asian backgrounds earning the most on average.

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Cllr Brock said: “We publish the ethnicity pay gap voluntarily. I think it’s really important that authorities take a leadership role in doing that.

“I really hope businesses and other public sector partners around the town will help us.

“It’s important to understand the problem so we can find out ways of tackling it.

“It’s a complex thing inequality, in the council we make sure we provide the right support from Human Resources, Trade Unions, training and career development.”

Other priorities include:

  • Getting to net zero carbon emissions by 2030
  • making sure childrens and adult social services are improved, so they can cater for everyone in the community
  • Tackling the housing crisis by building a minimum of 300 council homes over the next four years

The Local Democracy Reporting Service interviewed cllr Brock prior to the annual general meeting on Reading Borough Council on Wednesday, May 25.