As Conservative candidate for Newbury, I sat in on West Berkshire Council’s Newbury Vision conference at the Corn Exchange last week.
It was a lively morning of presentations and debate and once again demonstrated how strongly people feel about the future of the town and how hard Councillors work to get it right.
There was good news. Planned improvements to the Robin Hood roundabout. A pay-as-you-go Car Club. Increased cycle parking. Rejuvenation of the Kennet Centre. The transformation of the railway station. Around 230 new homes for rental in the Market Street development due to start early next year.
Footfall in the town has ‘turned a corner’ with an average of almost 200,000 visitors per week, according to Newbury BID, and more attractions to continue to entice people into the town centre are being planned. There is a real recognition of the need to draw more people to the southern end of the town centre. The exciting plans for the Kennet Centre and the Market Street development will help make this happen.
There was an underlying sense of excitement. A feeling that Newbury, along with West Berkshire as a whole, is looking to the future with confidence. The unemployment rate here has averaged around 0.8% since October 2014. Figures show that around 800 more businesses have registered in this area since 2010. In an uncertain world, where our economy can be buffeted by global events, continuing confidence in Newbury and West Berkshire is vital. Don’t let’s throw it all away.