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Plymouth council criticised after felling yet more trees to prevent 'anti-social behaviour'

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Embattled Plymouth city council chiefs have felled even more trees, this time to stop "anti-social behaviour".

Last month, a row ensued after the under-fire authority in Devon felled 110 mature trees in the city centre.

But it has now admitted to cutting down more on the famous Plymouth Hoe waterfront, leading to fury from campaigners and the local MP.

The Conservative-run council said several palms and bushes were removed because workers were regularly ''having to clean up sex and drug paraphernalia''.

The move was condemned by a group of local residents who are already taking the council to judicial review over the original tree felling last month, which saw contractors accused of "acting like monsters in the night" by launching a midnight operation that left all but 16 trees on the city's Armada Way removed.

These remaining trees were given a temporary reprieve by the High Court until the judicial review concludes. The row forced Richard Bingley, the council's leader, to step down with a no confidence vote looming.

Council 'greenwashed' felling of trees

Now, Save The Trees of Armada Way, the group behind the legal action, have accused the council of "greenwashing" by claiming that new plants on the waterfront will "provide a better home to bees and bugs".

The group said in a statement: "The Hoe is a Conservation Area. The claim that the trees needed removing because people regularly use the area for sex is laughable. 'Anti social behaviour' is in no way a justification to remove trees."

They added, alongside a face-palm emoji on Twitter: "You can't hide behind a palm tree."

Luke Pollard, the local Labour MP, said: "The final act of the previous Conservative Council just before they handed over to the newly elected Labour council on Friday was to chop down more trees, this time on the Hoe.

"No consultation, no engagement. Never let the Tories near power in our city again."

Officers cleared up 'sex and drug paraphernalia'

A council spokesman said: "The area around the Belvedere shelter has suffered from growing anti-social behaviour, with council officers regularly having to clean up sex and drug paraphernalia.

"As part of our regular programme of maintenance, and following feedback from the community, including local groups, we have been keen to clean-up this space on the Hoe and make it more welcoming and safe for both residents and visitors... We removed large shrubs, including cabbage palms.

"We will be replacing them with planting that has improved biodiversity benefits and provides a better home to bees and bugs."

The council added that they had consulted with an ecologist, but apologised to the Hoe Neighbourhood Forum for not keeping them up to date on the work. In their apology, they assured that "community engagement" would be a "priority moving forward".

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