"Wooden" Eltham sign
Drinkers relieve themselves on the £40,000 sign, the councillor said

A £40,000 “Hollywood-style” sign which was meant to create a sense of civic pride in Eltham is being used as a toilet, one of the area’s local councillors has said.

The illuminated wooden sign was installed five years ago as part of a £6m project to revamp the area’s high street.

But the lights have broken and local councillor Pat Greenwell said that local drinkers are using the shady corner to relieve themselves.

The sign, which is meant to be lit from within so that it glows at night, was widely mocked on social media when it was unveiled.

The controversy even hit the national press with the council accused of wasting money. At the time, Danny Thorpe, then the cabinet member for regeneration, said it was “one of a number of features installed to create a sense of place and encourage civic pride”. He said the wider scheme – which was paid for with money from Transport for London – had been “developed in partnership with the local community”.

Lighting up the town! #Eltham‘s new £50,000 sign is switched on. pic.twitter.com/3MSM4VL8Mz

— SEnine Magazine (@SEninemag) July 22, 2017

Last night the lights were off, with the sign only being lit by nearby traffic lights.

Greenwell, the Conservative councillor for Eltham Town & Avery Hill, was unwell and was not at last Wednesday’s council meeting.

But in a written question to Denise Hyland, the cabinet member for business, she asked: “The lighting in spite of being reported many times does not work. At present the sign is regularly used as a public toilet for late night drinkers. Local residents are very angry about this.

“Can the cabinet member please meet me on site so that we can discuss this again and find a way forward to resolve this issue?”

Wooden Eltham Hollywood-style sign
The wooden sign is meant to be illuminated from within

Hyland – who was council leader when the works were carried out – admitted that the sign’s “encapsulated architectural lighting has regrettably proven unreliable”.

“I have asked officers to contact the sign’s manufacturer, Woodscape, to establish how this can be rectified and whether the costs of doing so can be recovered under the contracts that the council had with those who designed and constructed the scheme,” she added.

“Until they have that information, I do not consider that a site meeting would serve any useful purpose.”

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