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Mayor hits back at his critics over £7,000 gateway palm tree

By Herald Express  |  Posted: October 27, 2012

  • Palm Tree

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MAYOR Gordon Oliver has defended Torquay's new palm tree roundabout.

The £7,000 tree —part of a £20,000 'gateway' improvement scheme at Kingskerswell — has provoked a backlash from some local residents and politicians, claiming it sends out the wrong signal at a time when Torbay Council is facing £10million budget cuts.

But Mayor Oliver said the scheme had been agreed by the transport working party last year and was part of a programme of improvements to the gateways leading into the resort.

He said new palms would also be installed along Riviera Way as part of an overall £100,000 project.

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He said the roundabout work was to create an attractive scheme which needed minimal maintenance because of the safety aspect of working on the roundabout.

Mayor Oliver said: "They have taken out all the dead shrubs and weeds which have resulted from many years of neglect. It's part of my election promise to improve the gateways into the town.

"For example, Torquay train station has had £45,000 spent on it by Network Rail, and I have been working with them for nine months. There is still a substantial amount of work to be done including landscaping, work to the Grade 2 listed building and painting of the bridge and that will ongoing for about 18 months. Network Rail will pay for that.

"We are looking at the other bridges in the Bay and the work needed on them. That will be done by Network Rail, ourselves and whoever gets the rail franchise. We will also look at Paignton Station and will be meeting Stagecoach about the bus station."

He said work was continuing with South Devon College to look at other roundabouts in the Bay.

He said: "There may be opportunities for other ideas so we continue this improvement programme. If we are to attract inward investment we must portray ourselves as a modern resort as most other resorts are."

The roundabout is scheduled for demolition when the Kingskerswell bypass is finished in three years' time.

Mayor Oliver said: "The palm tree will be transferred to a new site. There will still be need for a junction there. Nothing is wasted.

"We should not leave the Bay looking tatty just for another three years. We need to show the Bay is flourishing and prosperous. We have £450million turnover in tourism and 2.6 million visitors. We have to compete with other resorts which are making investments. The palm has been used for 30 plus years of tourism marketing. It is in the tourism company's promotional material. It's what Torbay is famous for.

"North Devon has a tall naked pregnant lady, the Midlands have the Angel of the North, but Torbay is synonymous with the palm tree.

"I have had a huge number of calls of support and only a minute number of criticism."

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  • Busboytorbay  |  October 28 2012, 10:54PM

    Money well spent........ Not!! What a waste!!

    |   -2
  • RaymoW  |  October 28 2012, 8:16PM

    Not against the palm but I think the visability for drivers on the roundabout is an issue.This must have been considered before the scheme was Approved?

    |   5
  • athlonman  |  October 28 2012, 3:39PM

    Anyone seen spongebob?

    |   7
  • clevedonrob  |  October 27 2012, 9:05PM

    I don't have an objection to the pineapple but they need to find the culprit who fly tipped all that rubble!

    |   11
  • steve2008  |  October 27 2012, 3:13PM

    Finally. A politician who doesn't do a U-turn the second the media object to what he thinks is the best course of action for our area. A couple of years ago a family who used to holiday here every year told me they would never be coming back because the area no longer looked attractive. That's one family we have lost, and likely the next 1 or 2 generations of them too. We all rely on tourism directly or indirectly and it's about time we invested to make Torbay look better. I don't know if this palm thing was a good idea or not, but at least something is being done.

    |   8
  • crackingview  |  October 27 2012, 10:52AM

    why oh why are we complaining the bay is finally having improvements done it desperately needs i personally cant wait for the place to start looking better when i look around i see a series of 3 towns all suffering from lack of improvements i travel the uk with my work and see many areas good and bad the good are brilliant and the bad are absolutely dire. and the rest somewhere inbetween the difference is the good areas have reinvented themselves and brought the place they live up to scratch as well, the people are happier, the brains are sharper, the look is more focused when i visit the bad areas, i have to set my watch back 25 years, the people have no hope and it shows when you look around, the clothes they wear, the vacant look when i explain something, the state of the area they live - you get the picture i am concerned that torbay will go further down hill and not have the strengh to pick itself up so i am pleased to see these green shoots popping up through the decay the town centre does need work,for example, plymouth have thier drake circus, exeter have princesshay - what do we have? , i went shopping in torquay the other day and spent more on parking than i did on goods, there was little variety and choice, the mayor has totted up that we turnover £450 million in tourism, i would prefer to see our commercial and business interest far outweigh that and the tourism be our sideline , tourism relys too much on the weather and it is a risky business model based on that, we need year round stability rather than literally making hay while the sun shines

    |   19
  • 1sagalout  |  October 27 2012, 8:40AM

    The mayor might want a row of palms in the middle of the road, but Highways are very sensibly looking at the problems these might cause. Sight lines would be one issue, and another is the effect on a vehicle should one be hit and crash down. Also, has he even considered the safety of the workers who would need to tend them in the middle of 4 lanes of busy traffic?

    |   -8
  • Karen362  |  October 26 2012, 12:47PM

    I don't mind it, meself, actually. They spent much more on a couple of chairs in the newly refurbished Connections Office, after all. You'd be surprised how much they spend on really general things, if it ever came out. Perhaps we should have a detailed inventory, just to put the potted palm saga into some kind of perspective, folks? Ere, that'd put the cat amongst the chickens! Personally, I think if you going to ave a bleedin palm, you might as well go the whole hog and get a big un. Incidentally, perhaps we should now formally commission a piece of landmark art based on this controversial, emblematic palm theme? Bound to be a budding Damien Hirst down the college who could knock one up on the cheap for us. A tad too Vegas for some, perhaps, but it would make a statement if we have a big golden palmtree or sommat to compete with the Angel of the North. Although, on second thoughts, I'd actually prefer a giant bronze statue of a thin woman to offer a subjective and aspirational counterpoint to the local obesity crisis... ere, hark at her! OK, I'm outta here before they start on me again...

  • spindleshanks  |  October 26 2012, 11:34AM

    Just wished it was on a hydraulic platform that went up and down and that the roundabout was renamed Gordon's Tracy Island. Now where's Brains?

    |   -1
  • Azriel22  |  October 25 2012, 8:27PM

    And who the hell spells Geordie with a 'y'? Oops I just did.

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