'MINDLESS vandals' have caused permanent damage to Torquay's new palm tree.
Police are investigating after Torbay Council workers discovered bark on the rear tree missing.
It is thought someone has tried to climb the controversial landmark.
The bark will never grow back.
Now the authority is reviewing its CCTV network in a bid to find the culprits, who are thought to have struck over the weekend.
A spokesman said: "This is a case of mindless vandalism. Whoever has done this has not only permanently damaged the tree but has also detrimentally affected the local community and the positive message we are trying to send to potential investors who ultimately create jobs for the area.
"We are taking this incident very seriously and will be viewing CCTV footage from the area in order to gather evidence for any potential prosecution.
"The palm tree on Kerswell Gardens roundabout is part of a much larger scheme aimed at improving the gateways into the Bay and in turn attracting new businesses and more visitors to the area."
The tree is due to be wrapped up for the winter later this week to help protect it from the frost.
A week after it was installed from Spain, at a cost of £7,000, a toy Sponge Bob Square Pants was tied to the plant.
The photographs, which compared the roundabout to his pineapple home of Bikini Bottom, went viral and attracted almost 1,000 'likes' online.
Mayor Gordon Oliver is behind the scheme as part of a package of improvements costing £20,000.
If it survives, the plant will be redeployed in three years' time when the Kingskerswell bypass comes through the route.