Candidate Information Pack
The District has good rail connections with access via Reading to all the mainline routes throughout the country. The area also has very good links to international transport hubs: Heathrow is 40 miles away, as are the ferry terminals in Southampton and Portsmouth providing links with Europe and beyond.
Newbury is the largest town in West Berkshire although Hungerford, Pangbourne, Thatcham, Theale and Tilehurst are also significant settlements. Approximately 60% of the District is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the countryside is as varied as it is plentiful.
West Berkshire makes up over half of the geographical area of the County of Berkshire covering an area of 272 square miles.
The District is characterised by chalk downlands, which are intersected by the River Kennet and the associated Kennet and Avon Canal. Both run through the entire District from west to east. To the north lies the River Thames.
The District is widely recognised as an area with a high concentration of high-tech firms and is home to companies such as Bayer, Norsk Data, Quantel, Vodafone and the Atomic Weapons Establishment. West Berkshire has a thriving economy and one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe and is at the hub of what is often called ‘Silicon Valley’. Low unemployment does, however, cause recruitment and retention problems across many sectors.
Many industries are located on business parks such as Arlington Business Park in Theale, and New Greenham Park to the south of Newbury. Important industrial sectors in West Berkshire include transport, storage and communications, financial and business services. West Berkshire has a lower than average proportion of people employed in public administration, defence, education, social work and health. The proportion of people economically active in West Berkshire in 2004 was high – 84% compared to 78% nationally – although significant numbers of people are effectively excluded from work through a lack of basic skills.
If you are interested in finding out more about our District and its Community, the West Berkshire District Profile 2006 is available via www.westberks.gov.uk and provides a comprehensive overview of the District including information on:
The People and Place
Education and Lifelong Learning
Economic and Social Wellbeing
Transport and Access
Culture and Leisure