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'Phallic symbol' Torquay palm 'should be moved before it's vandalised'

By Herald Express  |  Posted: November 19, 2012

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SHOULD it go or should it stay?

Now the giant Spanish palm tree at the entrance to Torbay has been wrapped up to protect it for the winter and from vandals, it has been described as 'a giant phallic symbol'.

And in the latest storm over Mayor Gordon Oliver's floodlit Canary date palm on the Kerswell Gardens roundabout, there have been calls for it to be removed.

It has been labelled a 'ludicrous blemish' by critics.

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And even palm tree fan councillor Robert Excell has admitted the wrapped-up tree now looks 'unfortunate' and is asking the public for ideas to improve the way the roundabout looks for the next three years before it is demolished to make way for the new South Devon link road.

Labour councillor Darren Cowell said: "It has been amazing the number of people who have said it looks like a giant phallic symbol — to put it politely.

"I think it looks absolutely appalling and if that's how it looks then it should be taken away and looked after in a greenhouse somewhere nice and warm for the winter.

"I was disgusted when I saw they are still floodlighting the palm in its hessian sack. I have spoken to Cllr Excell and asked him to turn the floodlights off for the winter. Illuminating it is just adding to the embarrassment.

"The way it has been landscaped is disgusting.

"The pile of grey stones is pretty dull and unimaginative and some would say it just reflects the state of our town centres."

The £7,000 tree was part of a £20,000 'gateway' improvement scheme at Kingskerswell which had already provoked a major 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.

When the roundabout is scheduled for demolition in three years' time the tree will be transferred to a new site.

Cllr Excell, lead councillor on transport, said: "I was a bit surprised about the way the palm has been presented and have been speaking to the tree officer to get some sort of understanding as to why it looks that way. It is unfortunate. It doesn't look good at all.

"They say the wrapping is for the benefit of the tree to protect it in winter and to protect it from the vandals.

"I did ask them to turn the lights off at night.

"From a personal point of view, as a professional photographer, I would have liked them to wrap it up in a more pleasing manner.

"Personally I think it should stay and get acclimatised. I am a palm tree fan. But I would like to see it skirted with lots of smaller Torbay palms to soften the appearance of the whole thing, and I would have used a yellow stone rather than grey.

"I welcome anybody who has ideas about how we can improve it over the next three years, at minimal expense.

"I would like to see a much bigger palm, maybe made of bronze, because it is the Torbay logo, but that would involve too much expense."

Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Darling said: "It's just completely bonkers. Now that it has been wrapped up like this it looks even worse than ever.

"The problem is that it is just waiting to be vandalised or set fire too. It should be moved, but inevitably it will be vandalised before that happens."

Ian Handford, chairman of Torbay Civic Society, said after seeing the wrapped-up palm for the first time: "It is a ludicrous blemish at the entrance to Torbay.

"Far from being an improvement, it takes Torbay down-market. Something should be done about it, especially if it's going to be there for another three years."

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  • iseveryidused  |  November 23 2012, 2:26AM

    Why exactly did ANYTHING need doing? We already had the flower bed arrangement, which is nice. Didn't they allow local business to 'sponsor' these sites? I'm sure Devon Garden Machinery would have been interested. I think the roundabout on Halitosis Way, is sponsored by Marldon Christmas Tree Farm, which is brilliant in my opinion. An expensive, unsatisfactory and temporary "fix" to a problem which didn't exist. A contemporary stainless steel sign saying "Torbay" manufactured by a local firm would have been my suggestion (if something HAD to be done)

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  • DevonJanner  |  November 22 2012, 11:33AM

    my wife is knitting a woolie pullie to keep it warm through winter,in a weird way we`re getting quite attached to it!!!

  • Bleach  |  November 22 2012, 11:04AM

    Give it a bloody rest, for Christ's sake.

  • DevonJanner  |  November 20 2012, 4:44PM

    I droved my son to college today and passed by the thingumybob,its now starting to droop,don`t need vandals to wreck it ,the weather will do that!!!

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  • Honsec15  |  November 19 2012, 9:24PM

    Very unimaginative, and badly thought out.

  • ColinTheComet  |  November 19 2012, 5:35PM

    Like it or loathe it in its current position, the palm tree is a beautiful living thing that spent years growing to that size only to be damaged almost the minute it arrive in good old Torbay. I find it so depressing that everybody just assumes that a tree is going to be vandalised - and even more depressing to find out that, in this dump of a town, that the pessimism is regularly borne out by events. Yes, there are pockets of real deprivation here but that's the case all over the country and that's no excuse for vandalism and almost glorying in living in filth and squalor. Every approach to the area is lined by filthy, run down properties with paths and 'gardens' strewn with rubbish. I suppose it's more amusing to have a night out trying to kill a beautiful tree than to stay at home and clean up one's own backyard.

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  • DevonJanner  |  November 19 2012, 2:13PM

    No comment from the mayor yet!!!!

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  • Dick__Palmer  |  November 19 2012, 11:52AM

    I have heard it said on dear old FaceBook....that it looks more like a giant spliff/joint being stubbed out in an big grey ashtray.!!....now THAT IS more of a true representation of Torbay!! hope this link works..... http://tinyurl.com/cy4gw84

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  • coggers  |  November 18 2012, 11:44PM

    While us workers struggle to pay our rent and bills and have to pay tax which we can't afford you decide to spend £7,000 on a palm tree that stick out like a giant ...I dont even need to say it...sorry but sticking this stupid tree is nit just a waste of money but is a waste of time. It will just get vandalized and once again Torquay is looked down on. Maybe we need to focus on more important projects.

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  • Brizz_Tony  |  November 18 2012, 7:00PM

    It doesn't look like a knob to me. This is a real cock and bull story.



      Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver plans to spend £7,000 on a palm tree as part of a £20,000 scheme to spruce up the gateway to Torquay. Is it: