From the Leader: The Benefits of Working Together

5 Mar 2024
Stephen Conway headshot

At a time when councils across the country are struggling financially, especially those responsible for adult and children’s social care, it makes great sense to work in partnership to meet the needs of the community.

The current administration at Wokingham Borough Council has embraced partnerships at every opportunity, because we believe they offer a positive alternative to trying to go it alone with less and less money to help the council make the borough a better place to live and work.

Partnership working enables the participants to pool expertise, experience, data, and resources – human, material, and financial.

It’s not about the council off-loading responsibility; it’s about the council working alongside others to deliver for the people the council is there to serve.

The range of partnerships in which the council is now involved is so great that I can’t describe them all in a short article. Three examples of very different types of partnership will, I hope, illustrate the benefits that they can bring.

Let me start with the Hardship Alliance, a body comprising the borough council and local voluntary and charitable sector organizations. All of the partners are seeking the same objective – to help those most in need during the current cost-of-living crisis. By working together, we have been able to do much more than any of us could have done on our own. The tangible results for our residents in financial hardship are clear – more support for more people. That outcome has been achieved by mobilizing more information, more expertise, and more resources than the council could possibly have mustered unaided.

My second example is the strategic partnership we have established with the University of Reading. This partnership enables us to benefit from the world-class research and expertise of a leading higher education institution, and for the university greatly to increase its chances of external funding by demonstrating impact beyond the world of academia. Both partners, in other words, are winners. For the council, the great advantage is help with our local climate emergency response, our emerging Town Centre Strategy, and our education,

employment and skills ambitions. The university and the council, furthermore, will be able to bid jointly for funds for projects of common interest.

My final example is the creation of the Berkshire Prosperity Board. This new body has emerged after discussions and negotiations between the six Berkshire unitary councils – Wokingham, West Berks, Reading, Windsor and Maidenhead, Slough, and Bracknell. The councils are under different political control – three are Liberal Democrat, two are Labour, and one is Conservative. Yet we have been able to work together and reach agreement on the way forward. The Berkshire Prosperity Board is a formal partnership that will be able to bid for substantial government funding for major infrastructure projects – the kind of funding we could not hope to acquire on our own. I feel proud that Wokingham has been a key player in the creation of the board, which will benefit all six Berkshire unitary councils at a time when we need all the financial support we can get.

This website uses cookies

Like most websites, this site uses cookies. Some are required to make it work, while others are used for statistical or marketing purposes. If you choose not to allow cookies some features may not be available, such as content from other websites. Please read our Cookie Policy for more information.

Essential cookies enable basic functions and are necessary for the website to function properly.
Statistics cookies collect information anonymously. This information helps us to understand how our visitors use our website.
Marketing cookies are used by third parties or publishers to display personalized advertisements. They do this by tracking visitors across websites.