The Tory leader of a council which caused outrage by chopping down over 100 healthy Plymouth city centre trees in the middle of the night is quitting a week after the 'chainsaw massacre' occurred. 

Richard Bingley today announced he is stepping down as leader of Plymouth City Council next Monday after his order to fell the trees on Armada Way for a £12.7million redevelopment project sparked local fury and a subsequent legal battle with protesters.

The Conservative was facing a vote of no-confidence filed against him by opposition Greens when he resigned without explanation. 

In his resignation speech, he said: 'I've always said I'm not a full-time politician, I don't seek to be, I'm just an individual who is passionate and ambitious for Plymouth. If others feel they can run our glorious Ocean City better, then that's great with me. ''Over to you'', I say.'

It comes after it emerged that under-fire Mr 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.

Mr Bingley has come under increasing pressure after signing an executive decision to press ahead with the redevelopment.

But he insisted this was the right thing to do and that it would result in a 'wonderful tree-lined zone whereby businesses and cafes and people feel safe'.

Since the trees were cut down earlier just over a week ago, local Tory MP Johnny Mercer claimed that some people wanted to string up the people behind what was called a 'chainsaw massacre'.

Last week, it was revealed that though Mr Bingley signed an executive order to fell the trees, he 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.

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.

The decision to chop the trees was also 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.'

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 per cent of all respondents - 1,537 people - did not support the £12.7million 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.'

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.'

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2023-03-22T16:20:04Z dg43tfdfdgfd