A Berkshire organisation responsible for funding train station upgrades and controversial transport schemes in Reading has shifted in focus.

The Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) are voluntary partnerships between councils and businesses aimed at stimulating economic growth and job creation in the area.

In its time, it has assisted in obtaining funding for numerous infrastructure projects in Reading and the surrounding area.

The LEP has assisted in investing £3.1 million in Reading West Station to provide improvements including a new station building and better security, and an even more substantial investment of £4 million in Theale Station to deliver improvements that include a ‘sustainable travel interchange’ providing 100 cycle spaces and electric vehicle charging points for drivers.

On top of that, the LEP provided £9.15 million to assist in delivering Green Park Station, which opened to passengers on Saturday, May 27.

READ MORE: Town's first new station in 116 years opens being 22 years in the making

It also secured £19 million for the controversial East Reading mass rapid transit (MRT) scheme, which would have seen a bus and active travel route being built between Thames Valley Park in Earley and the Vastern Road / Reading Bridge roundabout.

However, the East Reading MRT was torpedoed when Wokingham Borough Council’s planning committee rejected the construction of a bridge over the Kennet Mouth and an access route to the Thames Valley Park and Ride which would have been essential for the project’s delivery.

Now the LEP has shifted focus from securing investment into infrastructure projects to providing business owners, staff and jobseekers with vital skills and services to help them succeed.

Reading Chronicle: The Berkshire LEP Annual Conference at Reading College. Credit: Berkshire LEPThe Berkshire LEP Annual Conference at Reading College. Credit: Berkshire LEP

The Berkshire LEP works with all six of the councils in Berkshire.

Alison Webster, CEO at Berkshire LEP said:  “The LEP is in a period of transition as government embarks on its pathway to greater devolution.

“We are proud to continue our collaboration with the six unitary authorities within Berkshire to provide evidence and ongoing support, including Berkshire Growth Hub, Berkshire Careers Hub and Berkshire Opportunities.

“Though LEPs no longer have a formal delivery role in infrastructure, we continue to progress projects using the capital funding that has historically been awarded to us.

“Connectivity helps us grow as an English sub-region. Physical connectivity – by road, rail or air – brings us closer to our collaborators, markets and customers.

Reading Chronicle: Alison Webster, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)Alison Webster, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)

“Fast, reliable digital access streamlines the way we work. We have invested over £36 million in delivering 50 schemes in Berkshire that have transformed our road and rail network, whilst promoting active travel and achieving regeneration of our towns.

“This is an exciting time for Berkshire LEP and look forward to our future.”

That future is now focused on enhancing employee skills and stimulating business growth.

To that end, is Berkshire Growth Hub provides business support to businesses based in the county.

READ MORE: When to expect new Reading West station building to be completed

The LEP is also paid by Berkshire’s six councils to provide an enhanced support programme to high growth and start-up businesses, and business Masterclasses.

The LEP secured £1.5million from Government to deliver Skills Bootcamps, focused on personal development.

Examples of bootcamps includes those in in Life Sciences and Screen Skills. which have recently been launched by the LEP.

The organisation also promotes Berkshire business throughout the UK.

That work recently involved attending UKREiiF – The UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum in May, where they brought models in Star Wars costumes to highlight the growth in Berkshire’s film industry.