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Update from council leader - 17 February

Time Square and flagpole and flower beds

Cllr Paul Bettison, OBE, Leader of Bracknell Forest Council, said:

I hope that this week residents have been able to start enjoying the brighter weather and longer days, as well as reflect on the positive progress that has recently been made.

Last week we saw the opening of a new community testing site in Sandhurst, which should allow residents most at risk of catching and spreading COVID-19 without knowing it, to start asymptomatic testing twice a week. This site, which is located at Sandhurst Memorial Hall, is in addition to the sites operating in the borough at Great Hollands Pavilion in Bracknell, Brownlow Hall in Warfield, and the Morgan Centre in Crowthorne.

These community testing centres are a vital way for us to identify those who could, unknowingly, be spreading the virus. This not only helps to protect our community, but also helps to protect local businesses from outbreaks within their workforce.

If you are eligible for community testing due to your job, please do come forward and get your twice weekly tests. By regularly testing those who are at greatest risk of having and spreading the virus without knowing it, we are reducing the risk of transmission and helping to safeguard our loved ones and borough from the virus. Appointments can be booked through our community testing page or by phoning 01344 352000.

It may also be of interest to residents to know that Bracknell Forest Council’s budget proposals, including a suggested level of council tax, were approved by the council’s decision-making Executive last week.

These proposals will now be considered at full council on Wednesday, 24 February. If agreed, Bracknell Forest will see a council tax increase of 3.49% in 2021 to 2022. This is well below the permitted increase of 4.99% and is expected to be one of the lowest increases in the country. You can find more information on the 2021 to 2022 budget on our website.

Finally, I am pleased to mention that last week also saw the announcement of the council’s library service being awarded £14,000 of funding, which will allow the council to make substantial investments in tablets, e-readers, e-books and audio.

The funding will also enable the service to extend its outreach programme, creating new virtual reading groups and library staff supporting people in their homes, which I hope will bring joy to many residents across the borough.

Stay safe, and have a good week.