Tunbridge Wells will be adorned with new ‘London style’ information boards next year after the council successfully won £80,000 in funding to update the ‘tired and dated’ signs currently around the town.
The new signs, which will resemble those found in the tourist hotspots of Covent Garden and Oxford Street in the capital, are expected to be installed by March, subject to planning consent.
They will be ‘modular’ in design to enable individual elements to easily be replaced, and take advantage of digital print technologies making it possible to have a variety of graphic styles.
But the move has been criticised as a ‘waste of money’ which could have gone towards frontline services.
According to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council documents: “The town has a series of existing information drums, but they are now somewhat tired and dated. Technology and design solutions have overtaken them and more functional contemporary signage solutions are now available.
“Digital print will allow us to provide a richness of content at a fraction of the cost of traditional reproduction techniques.
“The use of colour will correspond with our adopted palette for street furniture in the town.”
It added: “Similar designs have already been used in a number of other towns, such as Brighton and Cambridge and are part of the Legible London system.”
The new signs will feature the address at the top, which will be ‘viewable from a distance’, directional information to key destinations with walking times and a key map ‘to give a mental image of the town’.
In addition, it is intended to include a small historical narrative about the area or an associated historical figures.
One of the most innovative ideas is for the new signs to have bar codes for smart phones linking to the visittunbridgewells website alongside other information such as restaurants and a what’s on guide.
All the funding is coming from Kent County Council’s West Kent Local Sustainable Transport Fund with costs expected in the region of £80,000.
Councillor Jane March, Cabinet member with responsibility for tourism, leisure and economic development said: “A lot of thought has gone into the new signs.
“They have been tailored to fit the needs of Royal Tunbridge Wells but they follow established principles for signage that have been implemented in places including London, Brighton and Cambridge.”
A spokesman for the Taxpayers’ Alliance said: “It sounds like a total waste of money. Why do these people do these things in times of austerity when there are cuts in other areas of frontline public services.”