A Guisborough Conservative councillor claims a £6,500 demolition and construction scheme for a new flower bed as a memorial to the Queen Mother is an act of vandalism.

That claim was this week rejected by some of those involved in the scheme, including the principal of Prior Pursglove College.

Work began in January to deconstruct an old flower bed and build a new one outside 38 Westgate, which will have a memorial plaque to the Queen Mother.

Coun Valerie Halton did not doubt the good intentions behind the plan, but questioned the costs and public consultation. She said refurbishment rather than replacement would have been better.

She asked where the old stone was going, and whether its value off-set the new bed's cost. She said there appeared to be no public consultation about the matter.

Guisborough Market Town Initiative group and Redcar and Cleveland Council had wasted money on this, she said.

"The initiative was set up to enhance Guisborough, but this work is vandalism. Public money is being thrown away. The old raised bed was there as long as most people can remember. It was part of the street's character but is being replaced at the cost of £6,500."

She claimed basic refurbishment was all that was needed.

"There were some small cracks in the mortar, some coping stones were missing and the seating had rotted. But only three stones were weather-worn. The bed was neglected and shabby, but not dangerous. However, despite public complaints, it was never improved."

Demolition and removal was almost desecration and a scandalous waste of public money. Would Guisborough's market cross be totally replaced if it had a few worn stones, she asked.

She acknowledged other new flower beds looked good, but would take time to weather.

However, Redcar and Cleveland Council said the 30-year old bed had been damaged by traffic and vandals, and used as a rubbish bin.

The authority drew up detailed plans in consultation with its conservation and design manager, and development department. It sought quotations, and submitted a bid to the Market Town Initiative group, in accordance with procedures.

Before work began, interested parties were contacted, including councillors and the town council, Guisborough Town Pride, the business association, market superintendent and residents.

Prior Pursglove College principal Stephen Whitehead is chairman of the initiative group and said: "This project is a response to requests from people who attended our early public meetings to make Guisborough more attractive.

"As a committee, we discussed this very thoroughly at a number of meetings. We felt there was no justifiable alternative, except to leave it to dereliction. The initiative is about regenerating Guisborough as a thriving centre for its residents and surrounding villages."

Borough Coun Brian Hogg has environmental responsibilities and said: "Coun Halton was given a full briefing on this. The initiative group was given a full breakdown of costs and unanimously accepted these.

"Coun Halton's views are out of step with what residents have said. They want Guisborough to be more attractive. The seat was a real eyesore.

"Now, a partnership including the business association, Town Pride and Rotary club, is sponsoring planting and we have something the town can be proud of."