Bournemouth's £76,000 tourist signs to be erected

Artist's impression of the new Welcome to Bournemouth sign
Image caption The 'Welcome to Bournemouth' and 'Safe Journey' signs will appear on the A338

Work to install two controversial signs welcoming visitors to a Dorset seaside resort and wishing them a safe journey will begin later.

Bournemouth Borough Council said the A338 signs would now cost £10,000 less than the original £86,000 budget.

The Conservative-led authority has been criticised by opposition councillors who said the cost was "outrageous" at a time when services were being cut.

Road closures will be in place for three nights during the work.

The council said the cost included the design and production of the 3D letters, installation, power supply and traffic management during the work.

'Makes a statement'

The "Welcome to Bournemouth" and "Safe Journey" illuminated signs will be erected on either side of a footbridge on the A338 Wessex Way, close to the hospital.

The authority said the tourism industry contributes more than £600m to the local economy and the signs would "reinforce Bournemouth's status as one of the UK's premier tourist destinations".

Councillor Lawrence Williams, the council's head of tourism, leisure and culture, said: "First impressions are everything and this is why it's important to make the gateway into our town as welcoming as possible.

"This type of signage makes a statement about our town and the community it represents, as well as a significant contribution to the way an area is perceived."

He compared the signs to Hampshire's Sails of the South in Portsmouth and the Angel of the North in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.

Mr Williams added: "The more welcoming our town is, the more the likelihood is that visitors will make return trips in the future."

The southbound carriageway will close from the Blackwater junction between 23:00 and 06:00 BST for three consecutive nights from Wednesday, during the work.

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