Farnham Town Council is to press ahead with plans to spend up to £8,000 on ornately carved tree stumps in Gostrey Meadow and the West Street cemetery despite public criticism.

Councillors signed off a budget of “no more than £8,000” for the works at last Thursday’s full council meeting but reassured the public funds would come from a budget already earmarked for the maintenance of both sites.

The alternative, to remove the tree stumps at the root, would likely cost the council more than £5,000, members were told.

The debate followed a furious response to the Herald’s coverage of the town council proposal on Facebook.

Jonathan Durham said the £8,000 bill was a “total joke” commenting that like the £19,500 ‘Hands Turn’ sculpture opposite the Maltings, it will become a “sitting target for the vandals”.

“Cannot the council think of better things to spend and not waste money on,” added Mr Durham. “How about keeping the streets clean, what about the paving? it is disgusting, broken, uneven half slabs half tarmac people tripping over.”

Chris Fairhead agreed, calling it an “absolutely ridiculous waste of tax payers money”, while Darren Ferguson observed “so we pay more council tax for less services but you’ve managed to find £8,000 to carve a frikkin tree which will more than likely be set on fire within a year by vandals”.

Frensham Parish Council has made sure its felled trees haven’t gone to waste, unveiling a squirrel sculpture in January 2022 as well as an owl in July 2021

Peter Goodwin observed it was “no wonder councils are going bust” and Harriet Gale asked “could we invest this money into the playground instead? It’s falling apart and heavily used everyday!”

Cami Etherington had the final say, commenting: “Whyyy??? £8,000?!?! For what? Those carvings will not feed hungry children or warm the homes of the elderly! If you’ve got £8,000 to spare, set up something that will benefit the residents and support people in need!”

The tree stumps have been retained from trees that had to be removed for safety reasons. The cemetery stump is eight metres tall, and the Gostrey stump six metres.

The town council has stated its preference for a local tree carver to be found, with quotes now to be sought.

It follows the example of Frensham Parish Council, which has had a number of woodland creatures carved into tree stumps on Hollowdene recreation ground.

In July 2021, a barn owl was carved into the remains of the horse chestnut tree. And then in January 2022, a red squirrel was carved into the remains of a blue cedar.

Frensham’s carvings were created by Surrey-based ‘Man and his Dog Carvings’.