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Torquay's famous palm tree is here to stay... at new road location

By Herald Express  |  Posted: April 26, 2013

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THE controversial £20,000 palm tree at the entrance of the Bay will be moved to the entrance of the new link road when it is completed.

In an interview with the Herald Express last week, mayor Gordon Oliver said he is pleased with the Spanish palm at the bottom of Hamelin Way. He said if given the chance to plant another one, he would do it in a heart beat.

Mr Oliver said the palm tree (below) was a shop window on to the Bay and a pleasant welcome sign. He said: "You can't have £400million of capital investment and have a resort which looks down trodden and neglected.

"The palm tree is sponsored and the roundabout has generated £30,000 in revenues for the council."

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The palm, which was likened to a giant pineapple, was planted on the roundabout at the junction of the ring road and Riviera Way last autumn.

It cost Torbay Council £7,000 for the tree and £13,000 to bring it over from Spain and revamp the roundabout with grey rocks.

Many people said it was a waste of money at a time when vital frontline services were being hit by the £10million budget cuts Torbay Council is having to make.

Mr Oliver was unrepentant, saying: "I have no regrets. It is a positive palm tree. It is what Torbay is famous for.

"I would do it again and again and again because it shows what a wonderful place to live, work, retire and invest Torbay is."

Mr Oliver said the first impression was very important and many more palm trees would be planted. Some 21 will be planted on the central reservation along Riviera Way and six more on the seafront. Another 35 redwood sequoias will also be planted between the Kingskerswell Garden roundabout and the Edginswell business park after sequoias were rediscovered there following clearing of the roadside vegetation.

Mr Oliver added: "The palm tree will be transported to a permanent spot at the entrance of the new link road when it is complete."

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17 comments

  • 1sagalout  |  May 01 2013, 9:49AM

    RivieraPalms, There is also another issue with the Abbey Meadows - this is part of the designated Ancient Monument site, and full permission should have been obtained before any deep holes were dug. The choice of palm trees goes completely against the historical landscape conservation report commissioned as part of the restoration of Torre Abbey, and drawn up by Elizabeth Banks. This horticultural expert is now president of the Royal Horticultural Society. I wonder what she and English Heritage would think of this mindless planting.

  • RivieraPalms  |  May 01 2013, 7:22AM

    I noticed the five palms yesterday. Three on Torre Abbey Meadows and two just over the wall between the seafront and Abbey Park. The plantings in Abbey Park seemed nonsensical being just a few meters away from others which have been badly damaged. I fully expect these two to suffer the same fate. I find it very disturbing that money would be spent on palms that the council and Mayor know full well will be destroyed. Also didn't notice any sponsorship, I thought from the story that they were being paid for privately but maybe not. I don't have a problem personally with the council spending money on palms as the gardens need to be kept up to certain standards but planting them where they know they will be damaged, well its just hard to fathom how someone could do that. The three on the meadows will be fine and look good in years to come.

  • 1sagalout  |  April 30 2013, 9:41AM

    And now we have FIVE new palms in Abbey Park! When I asked for full details of costs and who ordered these to be planted, the council immediately put my request under FOI - why? I feel as a council tax payer, I have the right to know what my money is being spent on.

  • newks44  |  April 26 2013, 1:00PM

    Has anyone seen the 1963 film "It's a mad, mad, mad world" starring Spencer Tracey,Mickey Rooney ,Jimmy Durante, Phil Silvers, Terry Thomas etc.? The theme was a money haul from a robbery buried under two crossed palm trees and a mad car chase by greedy people keen to get their hands on the loot. When the palm treet first appeared with its ensuing controversy I couldn't help but think that the title of the film was highly appropriate in the circumstances!

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  • TheIntruder  |  April 26 2013, 10:24AM

    The palm tree is great. But was there anything more symbolic of what Torquay has been allowed to become than wrapping in in plastic like one big giant reefer for the winter. The drug capital of the South West had a fitting welcome to Torquay feel about it's new welcome sign. As you drove in past thr Newton Road hostel and Factory Row you had been warned what to expect on your family holiday. Don't pick up the syringes on the beach kids.

    |   -8
  • pitpot  |  April 26 2013, 9:45AM

    Whilst I don't have any problems with the palm as such, the pile of rubble that surrounds it does spoil the effect. Why not inject a little colour? Surely there has to be something better than those grey rocks.

    |   9
  • Ned_Fl4nders  |  April 26 2013, 7:48AM

    Why am i getting negative ratings when im just speaking the truth, having lived in Torbay forever i am well placed to judge, Get your heads out of the sand and look around before rating you morons.

    |   -21
  • realityzone  |  April 26 2013, 6:34AM

    Suzy123 And their agenda to bring down the Mayor ( whom I don't aways agree with ) is exemplified by the heavily loaded "question" at the top of this page which asks "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: and then goes on with is it "A waste of money. There are better ways to spend the cash" Leaving aside that they don't know what a question make looks like, the question itself makes no sense in the context of the story. If the Palm tree is commercially sponsored it is up to the firm that sponsored it as to where their money is spent so asking if if there are better ways to spend it has no relevance to the Mayor. It's a twisted question. I remain convinced that Jim Parker wants to bring down this Mayor, is that the role of a newspaper that should be bringing us the unvarnished truth?

    |   2
  • RivieraPalms  |  April 26 2013, 3:34AM

    The palm is great but I hope Oliver knows what he's doing with Kerswell being outside of the micro-climate. There's no doubt the Mayor made a big mistake at Torre Abbey Meadows as the sea hits the wall over the road and salt spray has caused major damage to the palms planted there but the rest of the new plantings on other parts of the seafront look good. Its ironic that near the Abbey Park end of the seafront (where the balloon was) there were yucca growing nicely and with their leathery like leaves didn't mind salt spray at all but these were given the chop a while ago (possibly under Mayor Bye) and now we have palms which are not really suited to that part of the front. On the other hand there are better options for a palm as far inland as Kerswell Gardens, Jubaea Chilensis (Chilean) or Butia (Central America up to florida) which are more hardy than date palms would do well although Butia wouldn't like the wind. I love palms but they are more delicate than our Northern European trees and even though they grow fine here there there needs to be some thought put into getting the right kind of palm for the area where it/they will be planted. I'm very interested to see six new palms for the seafront mentioned in the story and that these future palms will be sponsored as well. I wonder what kind they will be? It would be great to see something else other than Chusans because there's a lot of them already there. Its a terrible waste of such an ideal climate to mostly only plant the same kind. People who enjoy exotics but don't take an interest enough to visit websites etc will probably have no idea just how famous we are here. Across the world when an article is written or advice is given on the kind of temperate climate needed to get away with growing this or that palm its often Tor Bay that's mentioned as the example. Its arguably the furthest place north on earth where palms can be grown without any winter protection but start going just a few miles inland and chances of a planting doing well drop off markedly. I love Tor Bay as its so different to the rest of the UK and here in Torquay most of it is beautiful, there are parts of the town centre that need work but for the most part I'm at a loss as to why some people are miserable here.

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  • Aletheia  |  April 26 2013, 12:50AM

    I don't live in Devon but I think the picture of your palm in the roundabout looks great. To any visitor this would be a warm and welcome sight when arriving for a holiday and would give the impression that they had arrived at a proper holiday resort with the weather to match. A great idea.

    |   14

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