TWO trees will be planted at Old Forde House in Newton Abbot to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II and acknowledge the accession of King Charles III.
The motion, by Conservative group leader Councillor Phil Bullivant (Bradley ward), was approved at a full meeting of Teignbridge District Council.
‘Obviously, it’s very rare that we have the opportunity to celebrate a monarch who has been on the throne for 70 years,’ he said.
‘And I think it’s appropriate for the future generations of people of Teignbridge that they have something to which they can look back on and recognise the contribution that Her Majesty made to this country and community. At the same time, recognising the assession of King Charles III.’
The Liberal Democrat-controlled executive backed the motion, proposing that the cost of acquiring and planting the trees is funded by any unspent councillor community funds when the scheme closes at the end of February and, if required, through other budget savings this year.
But Lib Dem councillor David Cox (Teignmouth) suggested the project should be crowdfunded instead: ‘Why not let everybody in Teignbridge … scout troops, clubs, societies, individuals make a contribution to this so they can say they’ve done that and we can perhaps provide them with a certificate.
‘Let the people of Teignbridge pay for this to show their love for our late queen,’ added Cllr Cox, whose suggestion was quickly dismissed by his Lib Dem colleague and council leader Alan Connett.
Cllr Andrew MacGregor (Anti-Violence & Positive Politics Group, Bishopsteignton) was uneasy at members funding the scheme during a cost-of-living crisis.
‘I would rather every single spare penny of my councillor community fund was given to food banks, or to perhaps add value to the council tax reduction scheme.
‘We already have as a council a tree planting schedule. It wouldn’t be too difficult to, within the current budget, divert that to include two trees for Forde Park.’
Cllr Liam Mullone (South Devon Alliance, College) agreed: ‘I have no problem with this as an idea, but I can’t see how, in the current climate, we can take money that would otherwise be going to clubs, societies – people who desperately need it right now.
‘How much does two trees cost?’ he asked. ‘When I think about all the money that has been wasted by this council in the last four years on boom-and-bust projects and dodgy consultations, and now you’re going to tell people that you can’t afford two trees?’
But Cllr Connett reiterated that the cash would only be taken from councillors’ community funds if they haven’t spent their allowances by the scheme’s deadline at the end of February, urging them to ‘spend the money.’
He stressed: ‘No-one’s robbing anyone of anything. No one’s taking money that would have gone to a community group, because it’s down to the councillors to get the money into their community groups. And if they don’t do that, the underspend will be used.’
The motion was eventually passed. Invites will be sent to the lord lieutenant of Devon, the royal household, the district’s town mayors and the chairs of the town and parish councils to attend the tree planting ceremony.