Trees that cost Derby City Council £50,000 will no longer be installed outside the Council House
SIX trees and their planters bought to stand outside Derby's refurbished Council House cost taxpayers nearly £50,000 – and now they will not be used outside the building at all.
The English oaks were put in Corporation Street but water from their planters leaked on to the pavement, making it dangerous.
City council officials decided to remove them and say they will be installed at the authority's new multi-use sports arena, set to open on Pride Park in late 2014.
The Taxpayers' Alliance called the cost an "obscene waste of taxpayers' money".
Its political editor, Jonathan Isaby, said: "There's not a moment in time when it would be reasonable to spend that on trees."
The £24 million refurbishment of the Council House had support from the city's Conservatives and Liberal Democrats when it was agreed in 2010.
But Labour chose to oppose it, saying it was not the right time to spend the cash.
Since then, Councillor Paul Bayliss, leader of the Labour group which is now in charge of the authority, has admitted a change of heart saying the refurbishment had the "wow factor".
Asked about the trees, he said it would be "unfair to say we shouldn't spend money on things to make the city look nice" and said that he would like to see some public art outside the building.
But, asked what the cost of this could be to the council, he said it "certainly wouldn't cost nearly £50,000".
Mr Bayliss said: "My objective would be to get some (grant) money that we've bid for rather than spending more council money."
The city council originally refused to reveal the cost of the trees, which was included in the £24 million, so the Derby Telegraph requested the information via the Freedom of Information Act.
Each of the six English oaks cost £1,200, while the planters were a total of £39,000.
Council chief executive Adam Wilkinson said it was originally proposed to plant the trees in the ground.
He said: "Subsequent ground investigation revealed that the ground beneath the footpath was not suitable. A solution of planting the trees in planters and placing them on top of the foot path was adopted.
"Following their installation, it was discovered that water from the planters was draining across the footpath and with the freezing weather was causing a potential slip hazard for pedestrians.
"The trees and planters were removed following discussions with both myself and the council leader.
"They will be installed on the arena site where they will complement the design of this iconic facility."