An economic development company (EDC), which launched just 18 months ago, has closed down and will continue as a volunteer group.

Newbury West Berkshire, which first emerged in 2017, held its launch event in April 2019 to promote both the town and the district in order to attract investment and promote its four key aims of heritage, business, culture and life.

More than 100 people attended the event and it was backed by many major players in the town including Vodafone, Newbury Racecourse, the Newbury Weekly News, the Corn Exchange, West Berkshire Brewery, Roc Technologies, Greenham Trust and Newbury Business Improvement District.

But Thames Tap understands the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on key sponsors contributed to difficulties for the EDC. It has now been closed down but work will continue to be carried out by a group of volunteers acting as an unincorporated association.

In August, Newbury West Berkshire appointed Robyn Brookes as chief executive but she was made redundant on December 7.

In a statement to members on that day, the company said: “In view of the current business climate and as yet uncertain outlook it has become clear that a company that relies substantially on income from membership fees is unsustainable.

“The company will be formally closed and it is planned that the organisation will continue with the support of the current volunteers and members as an unincorporated association. This will include the stakeholder group and the various active committees.

“We have given the business community in West Berkshire a voice and a vehicle through which it can express its needs and views relating to the future of West Berkshire.

“There is a strong relationship with the local authority and other important organisations through which we can help shape the future prosperity of the area and we trust this will continue.

“We also hope to continue, with the support of stakeholders and members, our regular business forums which have proved so successful even in an ‘on-line’ form.”

A panel event on ‘the future of the town centre’ with particular reference to Newbury on Jan 28 is still intended to go ahead.

Image shows Mrs Brookes with Newbury West Berkshire chairman Richard Benyon.

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