The Plymouth politician who ordered 110 trees to be chopped down in the middle of the night lives in one of the city’s most upmarket tree-lined streets.
The council had paused the plans due to objections from residents to a £12.7million redevelopment scheme but on Tuesday, Tory leader Richard Bingley signed an executive order to fell the trees.
Hours later contractors moved in and installed fences around the area while security and police with dogs patrolled outside.
Locals chanted and protested but the action was only stopped at 1am when a group secured a court injunction. However, by that point 110 established trees had been felled on Armada Way.
MailOnline can now reveal that Councillor Bingley owns a five-bed terraced house in the city on a quiet tree-lined street half a mile away from where the trees were cut down.
Plymouth councillor Richard Bingley ordered 110 trees to be chopped down in the middle of the night
Some 110 trees were chopped down in the middle of the night in Plymouth, sparking fury from conservationists
Despite being close to the city centre and railway station, the imposing double-fronted terraced home – bought last year for £450,000 – also has a park at the end of the road.
There was no answer at the home today but Danny Laine, 26, who also lives on the street said: ‘I think it’s shocking what’s happened in Armada Way. Part of Plymouth’s unique character is the connection with nature.
‘I haven’t lived here long but I love it, it is gorgeous around here and we are very nature focussed in this house.
‘If somebody told us they wanted to chop down all the trees on the street or pave over the park we would fight against it and I am sure he would too.
‘It just seems counterintuitive that while so many cities are struggling to add more green, Plymouth is taking it away.
‘I don’t get how anybody wins in this situation.’
Another neighbour – who asked not to be named – said: ‘The houses are very large and we’re near the city centre and university so quite a few have been converted into offices or flats but the ones with the original layout are very sought-after as family homes.
‘It’s a lovely community to live in and sandwiched between a park and a grammar school means it’s perfect for families. You really wouldn’t know you were in the centre of a major city.’
The decision to chop the trees has been criticised by local politicians. The Green Party said councillors were given no time to scrutinise the executive decision ordered by Mr Bingley.
The party has called for ‘an independent inquiry into the decision-making behind the felling of the trees’.
Green Party group leader Ian Poyser said: ‘This kind of ecological vandalism must not be repeated.’
The decision to chop the trees has been heavily criticised by local politicians
The Green Party said councillors were given no time to scrutinise the executive decision ordered by Mr Bingley
Locals have slammed the decision by the council to chop down 110 mature trees in Plymouth city center
MP Luke Pollard said: ‘We are in a climate emergency and their actions are nothing short of environmental vandalism.’
Councillor Nick Kelly, a former Conservative who is now leader of the Independent Alliance Group, said he had rejected early plans for the redevelopment when he was leader of the council. He said: ‘What’s the point of having a £12.7million scheme so many people are against?’
A council poll showed 68% of all respondents – 1,537 people – did not support the £12.7m Armada Way upgrade plan. The council said that if it took out the responses from people opposed who did not give a reason why ‘then the scheme has significant support.’
A local Plymouth resident walks past the tree felling site, which has attracted fierce criticism
Destroyed: More than 100 mature trees were chopped down overnight in Plymouth
More than 100 trees were chopped down in the middle of the night in Plymouth, promping anger from the community
Retired nurse Shirley Cooper, who has lived in Plymouth since 1976, said: ‘They have cut all these trees down despite being told loudly and clearly by residents “we don’t want this”.
‘Quite simply the council isn’t listening to us. They say they will replace the trees but you cannot replace them like-for-like.
‘They are telling us all to sign up and vote – how well is that going to go for them now?’
Plymouth resident Gary Reynolds, 65, said: ‘They’ve trashed it. I actually feel quite emotional about it.
Trees were cut down in Plymouth City Centre on Tuesday evening (pictured)
Bark cuttings pictured after 110 mature trees were chopped down in Plymouth City Centre
‘It’s just wrong that they can come in and do this and the mess they have left is unbelievable.
‘I remember enjoying sitting out under these trees when I was young. I’ve come into town with my grandkids today and I just feel so sad they aren’t going to enjoy that experience.’
Plymouth City Council said it was forced to chop down the trees because ‘there is a risk that the funding from the Transforming Cities Fund could be lost if the project is not implemented quickly’.
A council spokesman said: ‘For reasons of public safety and impact on the city centre and given the size of the tree machinery due to come onto Armada Way, we scheduled the works to be carried out at night with as few people around as possible.
‘We aimed to minimise the disruption caused to the public and businesses by cordoning off parts of Armada Way. Unfortunately, the injunction meant we had to stop work.
‘Following an engagement programme, the final design was changed to include 169 semi-mature new trees to be planted, a revised tree planting schedule and a commitment to investigate wider tree planting in the city centre. We await applications from the claimant as directed by the court.’