THE New Year has seen a few very interesting meetings. The first was a masterclass on fostering.

I am sure you will have seen adverts on television asking people to put themselves forward as foster carers.

In Devon we have 561 young people being fostered.

There is a mixture of in-house foster families and agency foster families, the latter costing twice as much as our in-house people. I would like to make a plea to you all.

If you think you could foster a young person please contact me and I will put you in touch with the officers who will help with assessment, training, duties and allowances.

There is also a scheme for emergency fostering where you just take on the young person for one or two nights before things are sorted out for them.

We had a very detailed meeting about budgeting for children's services.

On the bright side it is fair to say that all areas will be receiving an increase in their budget up to 13 per cent.

The big question we always ask is will this be enough? Only time will tell.

It does seem that Devon County Council is one of those that receives rather less per pupil than many of the other counties in the country!

There is a complicated government formula that works out how much direct grant each authority receives.

One other fact that came out of the briefing was the number of elected home educated pupils which now tops 3,000!

They have minimal costs but I do wonder at the quality of their learning and the fact that they are not mixing with their peers very much.

Another positive from talking budgets was that the Chief Financial Officer was able to assure us that we are not in danger of “going bust”, we will not be issuing a Section 114 notice, which has happened to several large counties in the country. 

The consultation on the eight towns with Pay and Display proposals closed in mid January.

The officer responsible has assured me that results from the consultation will go to Cabinet on March 13; I shall be attending this Cabinet meeting and will listen with great care and ask all the right questions on behalf of our town.

The  Liberal Democrats and I have drawn up a petition calling on Devon County Council to abandon its Pay and Display proposals.

We are planning to have several of us in Crediton on Saturday, February 3, which is Farmers’ Market Day in Crediton.

I shall be presenting the petition at Devon County Council’s full council meeting on February 15.

I have a feeling that some of the other eight towns will also be presenting petitions. It seems that all eight are against!

Contact details: [email protected]  or telephone 01363 775739.

Cllr Frank Letch MBE