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Merck sign Gillingham
The proposed design of the new entrance sign to Gillingham, with the branding of sponsors Merck.

New road signs for the entrances to Gillingham which have sponsor branding from local life sciences firm Merck are ‘ghastly’, town councillors have been told.

The two signs – an example of which is seen above – are among four new heritage signs that will be placed at the main road entrances to the town.

The owner of the sites and the signs, Dorset Council, have offered sponsorship to major local employer Merck, who will in turn have their name branded on two of the signs.

But when the designs were discussed by members of the town’s general purposes committee on Monday, councillors were less than impressed with the clash between the two styles.

Councillor Mike Gould said that while he was grateful for Merck’s sponsorship, the colour scheme of their logo alongside the rest of the sign was ‘all wrong’.

He told the online meeting: ‘Ours is a very elegant sign. The Merck sign – with the greatest respect to them – is in total contrast and not in keeping with the town’s sign.’

Councillor Gould continued: ‘I feel these signs are so important, I’m a great believer in first impressions. We now have signs which will lift up the town and give it a wow factor. I think the Merck signs will denigrate that.

‘If we allow these signs to go through I think people will laugh at us,’ added Councillor Gould, who suggested that perhaps the Town Council should foot the bill for the signs instead.

Councillor Keith Wareham: said: ‘I think the colour scheme on the Merck sign really overpowers what we are trying to do with these road signs.’

And Councillor Graham Poulter said: ‘These signs are important. They make a big impact when you come into the town and it’s detracted by the sight of what is, to my mind, advertising.’

Meanwhile mayor Barry Von Clemens told the meeting: ‘This is the most ghastly thing I’ve seen stuck on a heritage sign.’

Deputy town clerk Clare Ratcliffe told councillors: ‘I believe we would be the first town to have advertising on a town entrance signage. I haven’t seen it anywhere else.’

The councillors were told that the issue was being discussed between Dorset Council – who own the signs and the roadside sites – and Merck.

The meeting also heard that Dorset Council was hoping to raise up to £12,000 in sponsorship over the lifetime of the signs.

A number of councillors suggested that to avoid having the sponsored sign, the Town Council could buy the signs outright themselves – if this was for a ‘reasonable’ price.

Members of the committee voted that a request be made for Councillor Val Pothecary – who is both a town councillor and Dorset councillor – and Councillor Mike Gould to have a meeting with relevant personnel at Dorset Council to discuss the options.

Dorset Council had not responded to a request for a comment by the time this article went online.


Merck dismayed over criticism of new road signs for Gillingham

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    7 October 2020 at 8:29 pm — Reply

    There shouldn’t be any need for a meeting or a debate, the signs are awful. Merck are just taking advantage of an opportunity for marketing. Surely they must have put in some sort of visual for this welcome sign, it cant possibly be approved.

  2. Anne Johnstone
    20 October 2020 at 10:11 am — Reply

    I presume that Merck is paying for this prominent signage. Maybe we should therefore accept that it is useful income for the council. Having said that, I see they have wasted plenty of council tax payers money on new unnecessary traffic lights at the mini roundabout on the Shaftesbury side.
    Why do councils continue to waste so much of our money ?

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