THERE is no doubt that December brings a rather different mood to council meetings. However I am rather concerned at the number of parish councillors which seems to vary greatly.

I attended two parish council meetings; the meeting of Crediton Hamlets was attended by just about all councillors. Maybe they were attracted by the temptation of festive nibbles and drinks after the meeting!

Copplestone was attended by just three councillors but that was the minimum allowed so the meeting went ahead.

Sadly the meeting of Cheriton Bishop Parish Council had to be cancelled because there were not enough councillors to make the meeting quorate.

I think we should make a New Year's resolution for 2024 to increase the number of parish councillors to its full quota.

I did attend the Devon County Council full council meeting and from it picked up two very interesting cabinet member reports.

The first followed questions that I asked about the overspend of SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities).

The staggering projected overspend total is £162.6 million!

In theory this has to be cleared by March 2026 but it seems there is a safety valve plan which involves discussion between the Department of Education and the county council.

The council has plans to bring forward 20 projects but, as yet, no details. The aim of the projects is to bring the budget back in line and reduce the deficit over the next five years.

The other report was from the Cabinet member for highway management. This again contains some staggering figures.

Since April 1, 2023 the council has received 1,229 claims for damages to vehicles or personal injuries due to road defects.

The combined value of these claims is just over £1.1 million; to-date £48,000 has been paid. Quite a difference between those two figures.

On potholes the figures are again not very comforting. So far in this financial year 28,801 potholes have been reported.

As of December 1, 2023 there were 1,505 potholes awaiting repair with the contractors. I hasten to add that not all of these are in our area! Ha ha!

You may have seen last week on “Spotlight” an interview with a Conservative member of the Cabinet and the leader of the Liberal Democrats on Devon County Council. Amazingly they were both singing from the same carol sheet, namely they were berating the interference of central government in local issues.

The matter concerned an imminent government ruling (it becomes law on January 1) that decrees that recycling centres must now take domestic DIY waste free-of-charge. 

This has several consequences. Firstly it will mean the loss of about £1 million of income.

It will mean that the county council will have to dispose of the material, which comes at a cost. But there is perhaps one positive possibility in that it may reduce fly-tipping of the DIY waste we often see around our country lanes.

I hope you all have an enjoyable Christmas and wish you all a happy New Year. Do make some sensible New Year's resolutions for 2024, resolutions that you can keep!

Cllr Frank Letch MBE