The six councils in Berkshire are joining forces to promote the Royal County and seek county-wide investment opportunities.

The six local authorities are forming a Prosperity Board, to work together to help seize opportunities to promote Berkshire to investors, businesses and Central Government.

The new Prosperity Board would aim to drive and deliver economic prosperity across Berkshire with the aim of securing more funding, creating more jobs and enabling more affordable housing for residents.

The proposal follows discussions with council leaders across Berkshire.

It will be discussed at all six councils’ policy, cabinet or executive meetings before being formalised.

If agreed, the first inaugural Berkshire Prosperity Board meeting could take place as early as May 2024.

Scarcity of affordable housing is a particular issue, with homes costing almost 11 times more than average earnings.

This is causing recruitment issues for all the councils.

The six council leaders want to work together and collaborate with other partners, including the business community, to share and effect an economic vision to collectively address challenges and seize opportunities, which would benefit local residents.

Berkshire is already seeing growing industries, such as the film industry in and around Arborfield, Shinfield, Winnersh and Bray, and by working together it can harness future funding and provide a good base for investors to grow and develop.

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Councillor Jason Brock (Labour, Southcote), leader of Reading Borough Council, said: “It has always been the case that it is in the best interests of all of residents that local authorities in Berkshire work collaboratively.

“Over the past year there has certainly been progress on that front and the new board now offers all six councils the opportunity to provide a stronger voice to Government when applying for funding and investment opportunities.

“Berkshire is not immune to the challenges of economic growth, but I sincerely hope that by working together we can provide a better Berkshire for our residents.”

Jeff Brooks (Liberal Democrats, Thatcham West), acting leader of West Berkshire Council, said: “This new cross-Berkshire group aligns very well with our priority to deliver a prosperous and resilient West Berkshire.

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“We recognise that we will be stronger by working together collaboratively to attract investment, deliver infrastructure and tackle issues such as affordable housing and net zero which are important to all our communities.

“I look forward to this, as it will enable us to build on the legacy of the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.”

The Government’s current plans are to cease funding Local Economic Partnerships from April 2024.

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It will transfer local economic leadership and budgets back to local authorities in a bid to empower local leaders and communities.

The aim is that the first inaugural Joint Committee – Berkshire Prosperity Board meeting will be held in May 2024.

Core members of the Joint Committee would be West Berkshire Council, Bracknell Forest Council, Reading Borough Council, Slough Borough Council, Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead and Wokingham Borough Council.

If the Prosperity Board is created, it would be one of the most collaborative initiatives since the six authories where united within Berkshire County Council at Shire Hall in Shinfield Park.

The council was abolished in 1998, with the Shire Hall offices being taken over by engineering company Foster Wheeler and then current occupants engineering consultancy Wood PLC.