The first stages of the Welcome to Bournemouth sign hoisted into place.

. ..EAGLE-eyed motorists driving into Bournemouth on the A338 this morning may have spotted the first stages of the Welcome to Bournemouth sign hoisted into place.

The words “Welcome to” were put in place on Wednesday night as part of three nights of closures on the A338 to allow the sign to be secured.

Bournemouth council has compared the new gateway sign to the Angel of the North or Portsmouth's Sails of the South for the “high impact” welcome it will provide to motorists.

It will be secured on to the recently refurbished pedestrian footbridge above the A338 Wessex Way, close to the hospital, from Wednesday to Friday this week.

The southbound section of the A338 will be closed between 11pm and 6am and the northbound carriageway will be reduced to one lane.

The sign was criticised by Labour leader Ben Grower earlier this year, as an extravagant "flight of fancy".

He said it was a waste of money at a time when cuts were being made elsewhere.

But Cllr Lawrence Williams, cabinet member for 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.

“Tourism is worth over £600million to the local economy, so the more welcoming our town is, the more the likelihood is that visitors will make return trips in the future, hopefully staying for longer and spending more time and money in the borough.

“This in turn continues to boost the local economy. We are proud of our town and the new signage is a great way to greet people coming to spend time here.”
Bournemouth Echo 8/08/13

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