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Future of controversial 'Hollywood sign' outside Carmarthen in doubt as councillors admit they are not happy with it

Wales Online logo Wales Online 24/05/2021 Robert Harries

The future of a controversial ‘Hollywood-style’ sign to welcome people into Carmarthen is now up in the air after councillors admitted that the finished product does not represent what they had in mind when the project was given the go-ahead.

A large sign displaying the words ‘Caerfyrddin’ and ‘Carmarthen’ has been erected on a grassy bank to the side of the A40 as you enter the town on the eastbound carriageway from the direction of St Clears. Scaffolding has been removed in recent days to reveal the finished sign, which was given approval in March 2019 before being delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The cost of the sign and the work to install it has not been revealed, but it is part of a much wider and larger project to transform and improve that particular section of Carmarthen, which the council has called ‘the western gateway’.

After a very negative reaction on social media, two prominent councillors have admitted that the sign - which was branded “ridiculous” and a “waste of money” by local residents - is not up to scratch.

Alun Lenny, former mayor of Carmarthen and a local Carmarthenshire county councillor, said he went to view the sign first-hand on Monday and was dismayed by its location, which he said did not reflect the artist’s impression. He’s already spoken to colleagues about the situation.

a sign on the side of a road: What the sign looks like now it's finished © Media Wales What the sign looks like now it's finished

“I’ve now seen the sign and there has been a meeting with different parties,” said Mr Lenny.

“The outcome (of the meeting) was that it (the sign) was a good idea but there were reservations about where it is. The idea of the sign is to promote Carmarthen to inform passing motorists that the town is here, because our bypass system is too efficient and people just fly by.

“A large sign would certainly do that. Unfortunately the sign is too parallel with the A40 and it has not turned out as anticipated. Therefore, myself and councillor Gareth John are calling for an enquiry into how this part of the scheme was delivered.

"As local members, we’ve written to the chief executive of the county council, Wendy Walters, and the council leader, Emlyn Dole, requesting them to lead this enquiry.

"I personally believe the sign should not stay there, although it has had Welsh Government approval after consultation with the South Wales Trunk Road Authority. We want to explore the options to see if the sign can be translocated either close to its current site or elsewhere.”

Mr Lenny also defended the original plan for the sign in the face of strong criticism from some who branded the whole idea a waste of money.

“The sum quoted (£344,000) is for a much wider scheme and the sign was paid for in grants as part of the Morfa Scheme, something which has provided a very popular amenity area between Johnstown and Carmarthen town. The public should also be made aware that the sign has been paid for by the Rural Development Fund with European money delivered by the Welsh Government.

“We would emphasise that this is a very small part of what will be a huge strategy to revitalise Carmarthen town post-Covid. The public have already seen signs of this in Nott Square and at the castle’s forecourt. There are also new schemes in the pipeline which will be revealed and actioned in due course.”

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The majority of the reaction to the sign has been critical, with many expressing displeasure at the design and mainly its position. One person said that, while the idea was to be commended, the sign is in “totally the wrong place - you can’t see it until it’s too late and that slip road is hazardous enough without distractions”.

Despite being pressed on the exact cost of the signage, Carmarthenshire Council has not divulged how much grant money has been spent on the sign itself.

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