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Last Updated: Friday, 9 June 2006, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
Bay palm trees a 'safety hazard'
Torquay palm trees
The council acknowledges the palms are a symbol of Torbay
A Devon seaside resort's signature palm trees have been branded a potential hazard by the area's local authority.

Torbay Council officials said in a letter to Torbay's Chamber of Trade that the trees had sharp leaves which could injure people's eyes or faces.

But the council has denied it was "going health and safety mad" in its assessment and had plans to plant more.

The palm trees appear in posters promoting the English Riviera resorts of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham.

The palm is a symbol of Torbay and we want them to be everywhere as much as we can
Torbay Council

Torbay Council's senior urban design and landscape officer, Paul Osborne, said the trees needed to be "carefully and appropriately used".

He said: "They can cause maintenance problems as they have very sharp leaves."

Mr Osborne was responding to the chairman of Torquay Chamber of Trade, Robert Excell, who wanted to know if palms would be retained in an upgrade of Torbay's harbour and surrounding gardens.

Mr Excell believed the resort's roads should be lined with palms to attract holidaymakers to the area.

A Torbay Council spokesman denied the unitary authority was going "health and safety mad" over concerns of people being injured by the leaves.

The spokesman said: "About a dozen palms were planted last year, and we are looking to plant 20 more in a prominent position on the seafront in an appropriate area.

"The palm is a symbol of Torbay and we want them to be everywhere as much as we can.

"But you cannot get away from the fact that in some areas they are not suitable.

"It is something we have got to be careful about when we carry out any planting," he added.

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