Torbay palm tree roundabout revamp 'foolish'

image captionA Phoenix Cananensis palm is due to be delivered next week

A mayor has been accused of wasting £20,000 on revamping a roundabout with a 6m (20ft) high palm tree.

Gordon Oliver, Conservative mayor of Torbay in Devon, said it would improve the appearance of Kerswell Gardens roundabout, a gateway to the resort.

He said: "We wanted to make a real impact so we decided to go large."

Steve Darling, the Liberal Democrats' group leader, called the scheme "foolish" and "window dressing" when council services were being cut.

The Phoenix Cananensis palm, which is being brought in from Spain, will be placed in the centre of the roundabout, which is also being augmented with limestone rocks.

It will be in place for three years until the roundabout is removed to make way for the new Kingskerswell bypass.

'Welcoming sight'

Mr Darling said: "The mayor's temporary palm tree is another example of poor management when plenty of schemes exist which could benefit Torbay for generations.

"If this was a 20-year feature it would be worth considering, but this is spending £20,000 on window dressing rather than tackling the real issues.

"It's a complete waste of money."

The palm, which is due to be lowered into position by crane early next week, will remain in a pot so it can be moved.

Mr Oliver said: "Kerswell Gardens roundabout is a key location, as it is the first feature that people see when they head into Torbay.

"With its comparatively mild climate the Bay is, of course, famous for its palm trees.

"The tree and the limestone rocks will provide a suitably welcoming sight as people head into the Bay, and indeed leave our many thousands of visitors with an abiding memory when they set off for home."

Conservative-controlled Torbay Council is planning to reduce spending by an estimated £8-£10m next year through a mixture of savings, efficiencies and increases in income.

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