Action plan so council can embrace opportunities and make improvements

Devon County Council is hoping to attract more foster carers

Foster carers do an invaluable job - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Torbay Council has had a chequered history as regards focusing on improving its services.

Colleagues and I shuddered when a Conservative councillor bragged about not stabbing each other in the back but stabbing each other in the front when the majority Conservatives were involved in a civil war a few years ago.

Focusing on the things that matter is extremely important to the Independent and Liberal Democrat partnership that runs the council.

That’s why we were keen to get a half-time score on how things are going by having a peer review by the Local Government Association.

The report has now been published and I’m delighted that the council has been told it is making good progress.

A team of officers and experienced councillors from other local authorities led the review and focused on our ambitions and aspirations; governance, performance, and risk; council redesign; finance and strategic partnerships.

They recognised the authority is on a journey and that there are positive signs it is becoming a more responsive organisation to both residents and councillors.

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They also highlighted the council’s focus on transformational change and the opportunity for the regeneration of Torbay as a place.

The report also suggests areas the council should focus on.

An action plan has already been prepared so we can embrace the opportunities and improvements identified by the LGA as quickly as possible.

We want the whole of Torbay to thrive.

This report demonstrates that positive progress is being made while helping us to focus on what still needs to be done.

This process has been incredibly useful for us and will help us to continue to improve and deliver on our ambitions for the Bay.

One of those ambitions is to ensure that all our children are safe and are given the best possible chance in life to reach their full potential.

There are many foster carers across Torbay who play a critical role in achieving this.

They do an invaluable job caring for children who, for a variety of reasons, can’t live at home with their birth families.

It’s one of the most important things we do in fulfilling our duty to look after the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children in the Bay.

We’re always looking for more people to join Torbay’s fostering family and help change a life.

If you want to change a child’s life through fostering, please contact Torbay Council’s fostering team.

There are also people looking after someone else’s child but may not realise that they are providing private foster care.

There are steps they, and the council, must legally take to make sure the child’s needs are met.

There are a number of reasons why for a while this essential and valuable care is given.

It might be that a parent is going into hospital or there are family difficulties.

If you are caring for someone else’s child who is aged under 16 - or 18 if the child has a disability - you are looking after them for more than 28 days, you aren’t a close family member and you do not have legal responsibility for them, then please get in touch with the council’s fostering team  on 01803 208100 or visit www.torbay.gov.uk/privatefostercare.

Finally, it is good to see Paignton seafront lit up again with the switching on of the new festoon lighting last Friday.

The significant financial savings we made in 2020/21 turning around children’s services, meant we were able to invest £50k to replace the town’s festoon lighting.

The unveiling was a little later than we originally planned, but the new illuminations are definitely worth the wait and can be enjoyed all-year round.

Not only are they more energy efficient but the new digital technology means the improved illuminations, which run the length of Paignton Green, offer more creative lighting all-year round.

It’s nice to hear so many positive comments about how great they look.