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It's hardly Hollywood! Basildon gets its own sign to welcome drivers to the wonders of... er... Esse


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It's hardly Hollywood! Basildon gets its own sign to welcome drivers to the wonders of... er... Essex



By Andrew Levy

Last updated at 3:25 PM on 29th March 2010




The name of the town is spelled out in oversized letters and sits on a hill overlooking the area.


But the similarity with Hollywood ends there.


Basildon has erected the 5ft high letters - 40ft smaller than their U.S. counterparts - in the hope of injecting a hint of glamour to the Essex town by emulating the iconic spot in Los Angeles.


Locals were aghast at the sign yesterday, which is part of a £400,000 project to put the town on the map.




Hollywood glamour: Basildon is trying to shake off its tacky image with this new landmark on the A127




Bright lights: Motorists know where they are heading... the place dubbed Bas Vegas for its similarity to the gaudy gambling hotspot



Karen James, from nearby Laindon, said: 'They may as well have just erected a massive white stiletto for all the good that sign's going to do us.'


Another passer-by commented: 'It's no Angel of the North.'


Online forums were also awash with criticism of the sign. Someone calling themselves jmc28 said: 'This is possibly the most stupid idea I've ever heard and unfortunately the whole country is going to be laughing.'


Another contributor said: 'Top marks to the council for managing to come up with something to make Basildon look even more kitsch than it already is and quoting an obscene amount of money to do so.'


Basildon was designated a new town in 1948 and went on to become the heartland of those much-mocked figures, Essex Girl, Essex Man and White Van Man.


Over the years it has produced several household names, including Carry On star Joan Sims, TV presenter Denise Van Outen, and synthpop band Depeche Mode but it is no match for the roster of global stars in Hollywood.


In fact the only tenuous link to California's film making centre is the local Hollywood Bowl bowling alley.


To add to the derision, the sign is in a spot beside a leisure park already nicknamed 'Bas Vegas' by locals because the tacky strip of fast food restaurants, nightclubs, and cheap hotels reminds them (vaguely) of the Nevada gamblers' paradise.


The white letters at the entrance to the town where the A127 dual carriageway, which links London to Southend-on-Sea, meets the A176 are part of a project being funded by the Thames Gateway programme.


The grant is also paying for new road signs and entrance signs to the area to 'help identify Basildon along this key route and improve the access to a number of industrial areas'.




Iconic: The original sign in Beverley Hills, made of 45ft-high letters - nine times higher than its imitator in Essex


Basildon Council's last attempt at rebranding was in 2005, when it emerged the local council had spent £15,000 on image consultants who suggested dispelling its brash and vulgar image by giving the authority the upmarket-sounding name Boerthals Hill Council.


That may have ended up being a public relations disaster but it shouldn't be forgotten the Hollywood sign had fairly humble origins as an advertisement for a housing development, so there is hope for Basildon yet.

The council's deputy leader, Cllr Stephen Horgan, defended the new 'landmark' yesterday, saying: 'It is vital that the public sector continues to invest in regeneration and the environment.


'Our businesses, and the A127 corridor, is our economic backbone and this direct investment over the next year will address many of the key concerns that companies have expressed to us in the past.'

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