City Centre Tree Felling ‘Must Be Halted’ Says Plymouth Labour

Plymouth Labour says the controversial felling of trees in Armada Way must be halted while the views of the public on the scheme are properly considered.

The proposals to cut down and replace more than 100 trees in the city centre have prompted an outcry and Cllr Chris Penberthy has written to the Conservative cabinet member who made the decision  – Councillor Jonathan Drean – to express his disappointment at the way the Conservative Council is handling the city centre refurbishment.

Cllr Penberthy – in whose ward Armada Way is located – said the way in which the decision-making and implementation of the current works have been handled has been “appalling”.

“Over the past few weeks I have heard a variety of opinions on the scheme – some very strongly expressed,” said Cllr Penberthy.

“Earlier this summer ward councillors expressed concerns that these were major changes that the public were unaware about. 

“We said that there needed to be engagement with locals about the plans, especially those relating to the removal of trees. 

“We were assured this would be done in advance of any implementation from an information booth set up in the small square behind the sundial. Sadly our requests and opinions as the local councillors seem to have been ignored. If we had been listened to by the Conservative administration we could be in a very different place now, and many residents wouldn’t be so justifiably angry.”

Cllr Penberthy’s letter asks for the felling to be halted while the scheme is reviewed as well as asking that the feedback received at the public consultation is published.

“Labour are not the decision-makers for this scheme,” explained Cllr Penberthy, who has been a St Peter and the Waterfront councillor since 2011.

“As members of the opposition we have little sway over the way in which the Conservative administration are acting but the lack of public engagement on the Armada Way refurbishment by this Conservative Council is appalling and must not be repeated.”

Text of Councillor Penberthy’s email to Cabinet member Cllr Jonathan Drean:

Dear Jonathan

I am writing following our conversation at the weekend and on behalf of all of the St Peter and the Waterfront ward councillors.

We are concerned about the appalling way in which the decision making and implementation of the current works on Armada Way have been handled. We do not believe that a six hour consultation session held at less than a week’s notice is an adequate public engagement process. The decisions that have been made do not provide much detail and have been undertaken in a way that means they have not been subject to prior notice or call in. Effectively the public and the Council’s own scrutiny function has been denied the ability to engage meaningfully in the decisions that have been made by officers in consultation with you.

You have previously assured me that ward councillors will be engaged in the process of works being undertaken in our ward. In this instance we were given an early briefing – it would appear that our comments made at that time have been ignored. We have not been given the results of the public consultation or seen the finals designs. We’re sorry to say that your assurance is worthless if officers do not deliver it.

Your administration has proposed our corporate plan which includes values of being democratic and collaborative; this has been adopted by the Council yet these values seem to be totally lacking in the way in which these decisions are being taken and implemented.

We would therefore ask that:

•           The information available at the public consultation is published 

•           The feedback received at the public consultation is published

•           The final designs produced from the contract issued on 17th August, including the detailed planting scheme, are published

•           Details of ongoing maintenance requirements and costs are published

•           That felling of the trees is halted and works reviewed in the light of the range of opinions currently being expressed by the public

Kind regards