Description

ABOUT WEST BERKSHIRE


West Berkshire is a largely rural area of 70,488 hectares (272 square miles) organised into 64 parishes. It constitutes half of the geographical area of the Royal County of Berkshire. The current population is around 149,600 with three main centres of population - Newbury and Thatcham in the centre of the District and Tilehurst and Theale in the east adjoining Reading. The rural area to the West and North has a large number of small villages and the large settlements of Hungerford and Lambourn.


The historical economy of the area has been farming, although this has declined steadily in recent years. Lambourn and the Downs area is a national centre for the horse racing industry: tourism and recreation is important with over 70% of West Berkshire designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. West Berkshire remains predominately rural and the large rural area presents challenges in terms of service delivery.

Unemployment is at a very low rate across the District and some employers within the area do experience recruitment challenges, especially for staffing lower paid jobs.

The last 10/15 years have seen a rapid growth in new technology industry in the area, most notably Vodafone, which has its world headquarters on the edge of Newbury. Other companies in the area include Bayer, Panasonic and Sony. The area faces combined economic growth and associated new housing development.

The District is perhaps best known nationally for Newbury Racecourse, the Newbury Bypass and the former USAF base at Greenham Common which has now been returned to open space by the Council and also houses a thriving Business Park.

West Berkshire Council was formed in April 1998 following the abolition of Berkshire County Council and incorporating the former Newbury District Council. The Council employs around 4000 staff and has a revenue budget of £149m.