NORTH Devon is to get a new children s centre as part of a £5 million investment unveiled in a new three-year plan to get the best for local youngsters. Consultation is now under way for the creation of a satellite NCH Sure Start centre in the Bideford

NORTH Devon is to get a new children's centre as part of a £5 million investment unveiled in a new three-year plan to get the best for local youngsters.Consultation is now under way for the creation of a "satellite" NCH Sure Start centre in the Bideford area, where the number of families using the services has increased to such an extent that another is needed.The North Devon and Torridge areas led the way with some of the earliest Sure Start children's centres, providing a range of services and support for children under five and their families.And a recent survey of parents has given them a resounding and emphatic endorsement.Ilfracombe's My Start, the first centre to be set up in the area, has met with approval from 100 per cent of its users, who say they are very satisfied or satisfied with the service.Paul Arkell, who has been visiting the centre with son Isaac and now daughter Delores, said it proved very handy for his family:"We come along to the Friday 'Stay and Play' sessions," he said."Facilities are excellent and the staff are very good, monitoring the development of children and providing feedback for parents."I think my daughter especially likes the outdoor aspect here at the centre as most homes do not have very large gardens."Centres in South Molton, Braunton, and Hatherleigh have been declared tops, too, all being rated 100 per cent by pleased parents.The rest all scored highly, with Barnstaple at 99.1, Bideford 98.7, Torrington 97.8 and Holsworthy 91.4.The Devon Children and Young People's Plan -launched in Ilfracombe on Friday - sets out a wide-ranging blueprint of services and aims to get the best for all youngsters in Devon from birth through to adulthood.One of its main aims is to ensure all agencies that work with children in some way work together as effectively as possible. The document has been published by the Devon Children's Trust - an umbrella group of agencies including councils, the NHS and police - in partnership with the county council.The new plan reveals that of 21,558 children inNorth Devon, a quarter are "overweight or obese," 28 are classed as homeless, 28 excluded from school, 15 per cent eligible for free school emails and 450 described as "in need."Torridge figures, from a child population of 14,095, were broadly similar, but with a slightly better academicachievement percentage, only one listed as homeless and fewer than nine per cent eligible for school meals.