Plymouth council leader who ordered tree 'chainsaw massacre' quits amid backlash

23 March 2023, 14:20

Richard Bingley fell to pressure to resign after he ordered the felling of 110 trees in Plymouth city centre.
Richard Bingley fell to pressure to resign after he ordered the felling of 110 trees in Plymouth city centre. Picture: Facebook/STRAW via Twitter

By Jenny Medlicott

A council leader embroiled in a row after ordering the felling of more than 100 trees is to resign.

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 today announced his resignation.

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."

Richard Bingley announced his resignation today after facing calls of a vote of no-confidence.
Richard Bingley announced his resignation today after facing calls of a vote of no-confidence. Picture: Facebook

The incident last week, which has been dubbed a 'chainsaw massacre', caused outcry amongst locals, particularly within local action group, Save the Trees of Armada Way (Straw).

Straw served the council with an injunction last week and are raising money to pursue legal action.

Some have since furthered their criticism of Bingley, suggesting his actions were hypocritical as it emerged the council leader owns a five-bed terraced house on a leafy, tree-lined Plymouth street.

Locals have expressed upset over the removal of the trees in the city centre.
Locals have expressed upset over the removal of the trees in the city centre. Picture: STRAW via Twitter

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Others continue to demand accountability from other councillors involved in the redevelopment plan and the Greens have called for 'an independent inquiry into the decision-making behind the felling of the trees'.

Labour MP Luke Pollard said of the incident: "We are in a climate emergency and their actions are nothing short of environmental vandalism."

Plymouth City Council, however, responded to criticisms of its actions and said it was forced to chop down the trees: "There is a risk that the funding from the Transforming Cities Fund could be lost if the project is not implemented quickly."

A council spokesman also added: "For reasons of public safety and impact on the city centre and given the size of the tree machinery due to come onto Armada Way, we scheduled the works to be carried out at night with as few people around as possible.

"We aimed to minimise the disruption caused to the public and businesses by cordoning off parts of Armada Way. Unfortunately, the injunction meant we had to stop work.

"Following an engagement programme, the final design was changed to include 169 semi-mature new trees to be planted, a revised tree planting schedule and a commitment to investigate wider tree planting in the city centre. We await applications from the claimant as directed by the court."

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