Labour takes control of Plymouth council - after Conservative administration 'tree massacre' in city centre

5 May 2023, 04:05 | Updated: 5 May 2023, 04:16

The regeneration project led to the demise of the Conservative administration - after they were accused of deceptively trying to complete the controversial felling
The regeneration project led to the demise of the Conservative administration - after they were accused of deceptively trying to complete the controversial felling. Picture: Alamy

By Chay Quinn

Labour have taken control of Plymouth council - weeks after a "massacre" where 110 mature trees were felled under the cover of darkness as part of a regeneration project.

Labour won 15 of the 19 seats being contested - to take full majority control of the local authority which was under No Overall Control.

A fortnight ago, Plymouth City Council contractors felled more than 100 trees in the city centre before a court injunction won by protesters forced them to stop.

Former council head Richard Bingley sparked outrage when he ordered the felling of 110 healthy trees in Plymouth city centre last week.

He ordered over 100 trees to be chopped down in the middle of the night to make way for a £12.7 million redevelopment project.

He was set to face a vote of no-confidence by the opposition Green party over the incident after swathes of criticism, but announced his resignation before the vote was brought.

The trees were felled in the dead of night - sparking outrage from residents of Plymouth
The trees were felled in the dead of night - sparking outrage from residents of Plymouth. Picture: Alamy

In his resignation speech, he said: "I've always said I'm not a full-time politician, I don't seek to be, I'm just an individual who is passionate and ambitious for Plymouth.

"If others feel they can run our glorious Ocean City better, then that's great with me. 'Over to you', I say."

Nick Ferrari called out the council at the time for lying, stating there is "no defence" for the decision.

Nick said: "You've got men and women climbing ladders, using chainsaws and those giant chipping machines, and you do it in darkness, at night because of 'safety concerns'.

"What a load of cobblers! What a blatant lie by Plymouth City Council. How many times have you walked down the street... where a certain area is taped off because they're bringing trees down? It happens all the time.

"This was so there was no way that the people could stop it because this council knew that it was wrong. I hope every councillor who voted in favour of this is kicked out on their well-remunerated backside. There is no defence!"

Nick continued his rant: "Trees that have been there since the 1960s felled at night because of the fury of local residents... and mostly for cyclists. What is it with cyclists? Dear God, they've taken most of our roads now, they've got some of our pavements, now we've got to chop down trees to support these people."

The trees are being cut down in Plymouth city centre as part of a regeneration scheme that would see the planting of 169 new semi-mature trees, the local authority has said.

Caller's 'stomach churns' at Plymouth council cutting down trees

Later, Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, a caller, Mick in Titchfield said that the report made his "stomach churn", arguing that the council's decision was "absolutely disgusting".

Another caller, Richard in Marlborough, branded the move a "typical bureaucratic nightmare run by a bunch of little Hitlers".

He went on to say, "It's appalling what they've done in Plymouth".

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