Susan Parsonage recently took over the role of our most senior officer. We spoke to her about her aspirations for the council.
Why Wokingham Borough Council?
“Not only is it ambitious, but it’s already taking the initiative. Our recent restructure for example, such as the new Localities model joins together different teams to create a single grass roots service that should be more effective and relevant to you. Customer Delivery is another example of this restructure, backed up with new IT, so you can interact faster with us in more ways at your convenience.
“We’re investing in the town centre and created companies such as Wokingham Housing. We also have strong relationships such as with the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP. Not only big statutory organisations, but voluntary too, such as Citizens Advice Wokingham along with town and parish councils and community volunteers. To gain efficiencies we also share services such as legal, public protection and building control with our neighbouring authorities.
“It’s all about doing things differently as well bringing in income to reinvest in services. It’s no secret local government is underfunded so we’re finding innovative solutions to safeguard those services you want and need.”
What were you first impressions of the Borough?
“You care about being able to move about more freely across the Borough, so traffic and roadworks along with housing growth are concerns although you quite rightly want to see more affordable housing. You expect excellent services for adults, young people and children. Also very important to you are key services such as street cleaning, waste collection, highways and grounds maintenance,
along with great parks and leisure facilities. You want value for your Council Tax.
“We need to deliver the very best we can on the fundamentals. We must be clear on what we want to achieve for the Borough. I want to really drive up performance. I also want us to build on our successes whilst learning from others and from our own mistakes. We need to get better at engaging with local communities and improve transparency in decision-making.
“I’ve been getting to know our staff, councillors, partners, and the Borough – getting under the skin of things. I also look forward to getting to know you better. We all want the best for Wokingham Borough and by working together we can do great things.”