Wokingham and West Berkshire councils will continue to work together to protect the public despite Wokingham Borough Council ‘leaving’ a joint partnership next year.

Currently, all matters of public protection in Wokingham Borough which includes handling anti-social behaviour and licensing matters – are covered by the Public Protection Partnership (PPP).

The PPP is a service which is shared between Wokingham Borough, Bracknell Forest, and West Berkshire councils – with the service being based in West Berkshire.

Wokingham Borough Council will be leaving the PPP on April 1, 2022.

READ MORE: Council 'takes nuclear option' and quits Public Protection Partnership

But in a new arrangement, Wokingham Borough and West Berkshire will continue to work together to provide selected public protection services for their residents.

Wokingham Borough will continue to use the PPP for trading standards, food standards, air quality management, animal welfare (including biosecurity and feed-stuffs), and financial investigations and proceeds of crime.

It will also benefit from the PPPs pre-legal prosecution and enforcement case-building support.

However, other crucial areas of public protection, such as anti-social behaviour, licensing, development control, food hygiene and pest enforcement will be managed by Wokingham Borough Council when it leaves the PPP in April.

In particular, the council wants to provide a 24/7 anti-social behaviour service which provides ‘full coverage’ which it does not possess at the moment.

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Councillor Bill Soane, Wokingham Borough’s executive member for neighbourhoods and communities (Conservative, Loddon) explained: “We’ve been through a number of different scenarios, I think this is the best, it will simplify the termination of staff transition and reduce the potential partnership’s termination financial cost.

“So it’s a win-win situation for everybody.”

He added West Berkshire and Bracknell Forest councils have agreed that Wokingham Borough can benefit from the ‘retained’ services on a contractual basis.

The move could be seen as a u-turn from the council. Earlier this year, Cllr Soane was questioned by community and corporate overview and scrutiny committee over the process, where concerns over staff hiring and expertise were raised by Cllr Paul Fishwick  (Liberal Democrat, Winnersh).

READ MORE: The Public Protection Partnership and why Wokingham doesn't want it

The changes to Wokingham Borough’s relationship with the PPP were approved unanimously by the council’s executive committee on Thursday, September 30.

It was also announced that a head of service for public protection in Wokingham Borough has been appointed.

Voicing her support for the changes, Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, executive member for highways and transport (Conservative, Hillside) said: “I think this is absolutely the right model, the reason that West Berkshire were doing things like trade standards and food standards and some of the more complex things is that it’s quite difficult to retain staff with the right skills. So doing these things with West Berkshire, whilst doing the things are less specialist back to Wokingham where the local knowledge is the benefit is absolutely the right way to go.”

Below is a full list of the public protection services Wokingham Borough will manage by itself when it leaves the PPP next April:

  • animal warden
  • anti-social behaviour
  • contaminated land
  • development control advice
  • drainage
  • exhumations and pauper funerals
  • filthy and verminous premises
  • food hygiene
  • health and safety
  • infection control
  • integrated pollution control
  • licensing, permits and authorisations
  • pest enforcement
  • private housing, mobile homes & caravan sites