West Berkshire Council

Your District - Facts and Figures

Statistical data for our wards and district

About West Berkshire

West Berkshire makes up over half of the geographical area of the county of Berkshire, covering an area of 272 square miles. It lies on the western fringe of the South East region, centrally located, at a crossroads where the South East meets the South West and where the south coast comes up to meet the southern Midlands.

As such, the district lies at the convergence of two key road arteries in the south - the M4 and the A34. Both provide direct road links in all directions, with all the key urban centres in southern England (London, Reading, Southampton, Portsmouth, Bristol, Oxford, Swindon) within an hour's drive.

The district has good rail links, with London less than an hour by train and further connections, via Reading, to all the mainline routes throughout the country. The area also has very good links to international transport hubs: Heathrow and Southampton airport are 40 miles away, as are the ferry terminals in Southampton and Portsmouth, providing links with the continent.

The district is primarily made up of chalk downlands, loosely centred along the lower reaches of the River Kennet, which rises in Wiltshire and flows through to join the Thames at Reading.

The flat floodplain of this river is bordered by fairly steep slopes on each side. Most people within the district live within this valley. To the south, the land rises steeply to line of scarps which form the border with Hampshire. The majority of the district, however, lies to the north of the Kennet where the land rises to the Berkshire and Marlborough Downs. This is an area of gently rolling, chalk Downlands, classified as part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB); and includes parts of all the five National Character areas. This area is famous for its involvement in horse racing and the consequent ever-present training gallops.

Administrative District

The district is administered by West Berkshire Council. The Council was created as a single tier (unitary) authority after the dissolution of Berkshire County Council in 1998. The boundary of the district corresponds with that of the former Newbury District Council.

The Council is made up of 43 councillors who are elected every four years by people who are registered to vote in West Berkshire. A leader and cabinet (known as the Executive) model was adopted in May 2001. Currently, West Berkshire Council is a Conservative-run authority, politically composed of 24 Conservatives, 16 Liberal Democrats and 3 Green Party Councillors (as of May 2019).

The district of West Berkshire is made up of 24 electoral wards, and each ward is represented by up to three Councillors. 


According to the Office of National Statistics mid-year estimates at mid-year 2020, West Berkshire has a resident population of approximately 158,465.

21% are aged 16 and under, 61% are of working age (16-64), and 20% are aged 65 and over.

64% (around 101,111) of people live in settlements along the Kennet Valley, and in the suburban areas just to the west of Reading borough.

The largest urban areas in the district are Newbury and Thatcham, where around 69,667 (44%) of West Berkshire residents live. 

(20%) 31,444 of residents live in the suburban area adjoining Reading borough. 

36% (around 57,354) of people live in rural settlements.

West Berkshire has one of the most dispersed populations in the South East with 225 people per hectare.


Estimated Population (April 2019)

Newbury 44,171
Eastern suburban area31,444
Rural area57,354
West Berkshire 158,465


We use data from a variety of free, public sites to access information about our district and wards, e.g. population figures, health and Police data. Data can sometimes be further sub-divided into smaller areas called Super Output Areas (SOAs), which represents about 1,500 people, which are used e.g. by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for the Census, and for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) Indices of Deprivation (IoD).

We use this information to improve our service delivery, and compare ourselves to other councils. Some useful sites are:

  • West Berkshire Data Observatory aims to bring together existing research and analysis resources, working jointly with partners to provide information and intelligence.
  • Office of National Statistics (ONS) provides access to data produced by the Office for National Statistics, and some data from government departments and devolved administrations.
  • Nomis (provided by the ONS) gives free access to the most detailed and up-to-date UK labour market statistics from official sources. It also holds all the data from the 2011 Census.
  • Public Health England provides a snapshot of health for each local council in England using key health indicators, which enables comparison locally, regionally and over time. They are designed to help local councils and the NHS decide where to target resources and tackle health inequalities in their local area.
  • JSNA describes the health needs and wellbeing of people who live in West Berkshire. It uses data and evidence about the current health and wellbeing of the district to highlight the health needs of the whole community and how they vary for different age groups, identifies health differences in disadvantaged or vulnerable groups.
  • Stat-Xplore provides a guided way to explore Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) benefit statistics.
  • English Indices of Deprivation are statistics on relative levels of deprivation in England and were updated in September 2019. There is a indices for local authorities dashboard, where data at local authority and neighbourhood (Lower Super Output Area (LSOA)) level can be explored. Note: the IoD can not be used to quantify how deprived or affluent a small area is.
  • Police.uk provides you with information on crime and antisocial behaviour in your neighbourhood, wherever you live in England or Wales. It also enables you to access and compare the latest information on a range of crime types with other neighbourhoods. You will also be able to access the details of your local neighbourhood policing team, policing priorities and information on the policing pledge.

Who To Contact

Managing statistics, performance metrics, risk and co-ordinating and supporting consultations across West Berkshire Council

01635 503043