THE final section of the £76,000 Welcome to Bournemouth sign has been hoisted into place.

Last night was the final night of closures on the A338 to allow the sign to be secured on the recently refurbished pedestrian footbridge above the A338 Wessex Way, close to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

The southbound section of the Spur Road was closed from 11pm until 6am with the northbound carriageway reduced to one lane.

Bournemouth council’s Labour leader Cllr Ben Grower has slammed the sign, branding it an extravagant “flight of fancy” and a waste of money when cuts were being made elsewhere.

But tourism chiefs maintain that the sign will make the resort more welcoming for visitors and also help to ensure their return.

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 resort and the community it represents as well as a significant contribution to the way the area is perceived.”

He added: “Tourism is worth over £600million to 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.”

Mike Francis, president of the Bournemouth Tourism Management Board, echoed his sentiments.

He said: “It demonstrates that we value the immeasurable contribution tourism makes to the local economy.

“The signage is something the industry has been working with the council to provide for a long time, to further reflect the significance of Bournemouth as one of the UK’s premier resorts.”