A ROW has broken out over who can claim the credit for creating a community orchard in a south Tees community.
Allotment holders, residents and councillors have been clearing trees and vegetation at Snaith’s Field, a community parkland area in Yarm.
However, some of them were unhappy when a Conservative Party newsletter, Intouch, mentioned the plan.
The leaflet said: “The orchard itself is being paid for out of local Conservative councillors’ ward budgets. This is just another example of local Conservatives delivering for residents in our area.”
The newsletter did also make clear that local businesses and residents were involved in the project.
But in fact Stockton Borough Council’s only Ukip councillor, Mark Chatburn, also had to approve the allocation of money from the Yarm area’s community budget.
The idea for the 20-tree orchard itself came from resident Carole Jones who has campaigned against the area’s Conservative MP.
Yarm Town Council member, Bob Wegg, an Independent, has also been heavily involved. Much of the heavy clearance work has been done by allotment holders of no political allegiance.
Coun Chatburn said: “Obviously those residents who have done all the work to date are furious that local Conservatives are trying to take the credit for all their hard work.”
Coun Andrew Sherris, who is a Conservative borough councillor for Yarm and also approved the budget allocation, has also personally worked on clearing the area. He agreed politics should not be part of the project.
The area’s only other Stockton borough councillor, Ben Houchen, a Conservative, agreed there was a lot of hard work from residents, but said they wouldn’t have funding without the councillors’ ward budget.
About £200 has been set aside from the councillors’ community budget, but all of that may not be needed due to various donations from within the Yarm community.