Reading Borough Council
Arms of Reading Borough Council
Coat of arms
Reading Borough Council logo
Council logo
Glenn Dennis,
since 22 May 2024[2]
Jason Brock[1],
since 22 May 2019
Jackie Yates
since October 2022[3]
Seats48 councillors
Political groups
Administration (32)
  Labour (32)
Other parties (16)
  Green Party (8)
  Conservative (4)
  Liberal Democrats (3)
  Independent (1)
Length of term
4 years
Last election
2 May 2024
Next election
7 May 2026
A Deo et Regina
Meeting place
Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading, RG1 2LU

Reading Borough Council, formerly known as Reading Corporation, is the local authority for Reading in the county of Berkshire, England. Reading is a unitary authority with borough status. As a unitary authority the council has the powers of a county council and district council combined. Berkshire is purely a ceremonial county, with no administrative responsibilities.


The town of Reading was an ancient borough, being described as a borough by the time of the Domesday Book in 1086. The borough was initially controlled by Reading Abbey, but the town gradually gained a degree of independence from the abbey from the thirteenth century onwards. Following the dissolution of the abbey in 1538 the borough was granted a new charter in 1542.[4]

The borough was reformed in 1836 to become a municipal borough under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. When elected county councils were established in 1889 under the Local Government Act 1888, Reading was considered large enough to provide its own county-level services, and so it was made a county borough, independent from Berkshire County Council.[5]

When the town became a county borough in 1889 the borough comprised the three civil parishes of St Giles, St Laurence, and St Mary. The three civil parishes were united into a single parish called Reading in 1905 covering the same area as the borough. The borough and parish of Reading were significantly enlarged in 1911, gaining the former Caversham Urban District from Oxfordshire, and also gaining a large part of the neighbouring parish of Tilehurst.[6]

The Local Government Act 1972 reconstituted Reading as a non-metropolitan district with effect from 1 April 1974; it kept the same boundaries and its borough status, allowing the chair of the council to take the title of mayor, but there were changes to the council's responsibilities.[7] In particular, it became a lower-tier district authority, with Berkshire County Council providing county-level services in the town for the first time.[8]

The county council was abolished in 1998 and Reading became a unitary authority, taking over the county council's functions in the area.[9]


As a unitary authority, Reading Borough Council delivers all local government services in the area. There are no civil parishes in the borough, which has been an unparished area since the 1974 reforms. Since the abolition of Berkshire County Council in 1998 some county-wide functions such as the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service have been administered by joint committees of the six district councils. Reading Borough Council has adopted the committee system of governance.

Political control

The council has been under Labour majority control since 2012.

Political control of the council since the 1974 reforms took effect has been as follows:[10]

Non-metropolitan district

Party in control Years
No overall control 1974–1983
Conservative 1983–1986
No overall control 1986–1987
Labour 1987–1998

Unitary authority

Party in control Years
Labour 1998–2008
No overall control 2008–2012
Labour 2012–present


See also: List of mayors of Reading

The role of mayor is largely ceremonial in Reading. Political leadership is instead provided by the leader of the council. After local government reorganisation in 1974, the leading political role was the chair of the policy committee, which was informally called the leader of the council. The role of leader of the council was made a formal position following the Local Government Act 2000. The leaders of Reading Borough Council since 1974 have been:[11]

Councillor Party From To
Jim Day[12] Liberal 1974 1976
Deryck Morton Conservative 1976 1986
Mike Orton[13][14] Labour 1986 1995
David Sutton[15] Labour 1995 4 May 2008
Jo Lovelock[16] Labour 20 May 2008 25 May 2010
Andrew Cumpsty[17] Conservative 25 May 2010 25 May 2011
Jo Lovelock[18] Labour 25 May 2011 22 May 2019
Jason Brock[19] Labour 22 May 2019


Following the 2024 election, the composition of the council was:[20]

Party Councillors
Labour 32
Green 8
Conservative 4
Liberal Democrats 3
Independent 1
Total 48

The next election is due in 2026.


See also: Reading Borough Council elections

Since the last boundary changes in 2022 the council has comprised 48 councillors representing 16 wards, with each ward electing three councillors. Elections are held three years out of every four, with a third of the council (one councillor for each ward) being elected each time for a four-year term.[21]


Reading's councillors are elected by 16 wards:[22]


Reading Town Hall: Former headquarters, still used for council's annual meeting.

Since 2014 the council has been based at the Civic Offices on Bridge Street.

Reading's historic Town Hall on Blagrave Street was built in phases between 1786 and 1897, and served as the headquarters of the borough council until 1976. The council's annual meeting when new mayors are appointed continues to be held at the Town Hall.[23] In 1976 the council moved to a new Civic Centre off Castle Street, adjoining other facilities including a police station, magistrates' court, and The Hexagon theatre.

Civic Centre: Council's headquarters 1976–2014

By 2013 the council's offices at the civic centre were deemed to be at the end of their design life. The council purchased an existing building called Plaza West on Bridge Street, which had been built in 1986 (originally being called Bridge Street Plaza).[24] The building was renamed Civic Offices and opened as the council's headquarters in 2014, with the old council offices at the civic centre being demolished shortly afterwards.[25]


  1. ^ "Councillors Poster 2018-19" (PDF). Reading Borough Council. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  2. ^ Aldridge, James (23 May 2024). "History made as first black Mayor of Reading sworn in". Reading Chronicle. Retrieved 8 June 2024.
  3. ^ Aldridge, James. "Reading council's new chief executive lands £170k role". Reading Chronicle. Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  4. ^ Ditchfield, P. H.; Page, William, eds. (1923). "The borough of Reading: The borough". A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3. London: Victoria County History. pp. 342–364. Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  5. ^ "Reading Municipal Borough / County Borough". A Vision of Britain through Time. GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  6. ^ "Reading Civil Parish". A Vision of Britain through Time. GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  7. ^ "District Councils and Boroughs". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 28 March 1974. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  8. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972",, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 28 June 2023
  9. ^ "The Berkshire (Structural Change) Order 1996",, The National Archives, SI 1996/1879, retrieved 31 May 2023
  10. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 26 May 2023.
  11. ^ "Council minutes". Reading Borough Council. Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  12. ^ "Get ready for heavy rate rise, warns new Liberal committee chief". Evening Post. Reading. 4 October 1973. p. 1. Retrieved 5 April 2022. Liberals took the helm of the new Reading Council's top committee yesterday... Councillor Day was voted policy committee chairman on the new district council...
  13. ^ "Changing chairmen". Reading Evening Post. 22 May 1986. p. 3. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  14. ^ Fort, Linda (24 March 2016). "Whitley councillor Mike Orton to step down after 40 years". Get Reading. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  15. ^ "New leader for borough". Reading Evening Post. 8 May 1995. p. 3. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  16. ^ "Council minutes, 20 May 2008" (PDF). Reading Borough Council. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  17. ^ "Council minutes, 25 May 2010" (PDF). Reading Borough Council. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  18. ^ "Council minutes, 25 May 2011" (PDF). Reading Borough Council. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  19. ^ Markson, Tevye (10 May 2019). "Council leader Jo Lovelock steps down with Councillor Jason Brock replacing her". Reading Chronicle. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  20. ^ "Local elections 2024: full mayoral and council results for England". The Guardian.
  21. ^ "The Reading (Electoral Changes) Order 2021",, The National Archives, SI 2021/108, retrieved 28 June 2023
  22. ^ "Your councilors". Reading Borough Council. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  23. ^ "Council Annual Meeting, 24 May 2023". Reading Borough Council. Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  24. ^ "£1.3m HQ on offer". Reading Evening Post. 8 October 1986. p. 26. Retrieved 12 February 2023.
  25. ^ Hyde, Nathan John (1 October 2016). "Demolition of Reading Civic Centre continues". Berkshire Live. Retrieved 12 February 2023.