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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 January, 2005, 16:14 GMT
Fury as town palm trees destroyed
Destroyed palm tree
About a dozen trees were left standing after the work started
Residents in a south Devon town are angry that several 50-year-old palm trees have been destroyed as part of development works by a local council.

The four trees were taken down at the seafront in Teignmouth as part of a scheme by Teignbridge District Council to build a children's playground.

The work was temporarily stopped on Thursday by the local tree warden.

The council said the removed trees could not be saved and the 400,000 scheme would greatly improve the area.

Coat of arms

About a dozen trees were left standing after the work, which began on Wednesday evening. It was stopped on Thursday morning after the council failed to inform the town's tree warden.

District councillor Fred Tooley said: "Being the tree warden for Teignmouth, I should've been notified. I found out they started the work because I had 30 calls after it began.

"I came on site first thing on Thursday morning to make sure they didn't take any more down."

Although the palm trees were planted, they do grow naturally in parts of the area and even feature on the district's coat of arms.

Richard Macey, owner of The Bay Hotel, which overlooks the seafront, said he and his guests were upset when they saw diggers starting to take the trees on Wednesday evening.

Teignbridge Coat of Arms
Palm trees feature on the district's coat of arms
He said: "These are trees that are over 50-years-old and they are considered to be part of the town."

The council said some of the trees taken down had grown too high and had exposed roots, meaning they could not be saved and included in the new plans.

It said a tree expert would be brought in to see if the rest of the plants were in good enough condition to be kept and included in the playground.

It added that the plans also included a landscaping element that would have some mature palm trees planted back in, but it did not specify how many.

In its plans for the playground, the council said: "The seafront is one of the most important and unspoilt Regency seafronts in Teignbridge and it is vitally important that the new play area only enhances what is already there."

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