Merck say they are ‘disappointed’ after criticism by Gillingham councillors of new road signs for the town which feature the life sciences firm’s branding.
Last week local councillors expressed dismay at what they called the clash of design between the planned heritage-style signs for Gillingham and the modern logo of Merck, who are sponsoring two of the signs under a deal with Dorset Council.
One town councillor said the result was ‘ghastly’.
But in a statement Merck said ‘We were disappointed to learn that Gillingham Town Council was publicly discussing and criticising the design of the proposed new road signs for the town and apportioning the blame to Merck.
‘Merck never signed off on the most recent designs and we were given no prior warning that these would be brought before the council. We feel we should have been informed before the meeting that the designs would be discussed.’
It added: ‘In our view the comments from councillors has done reputational damage to Merck in Gillingham and surrounding areas.’
The statement pointed out that the company makes a ‘considerable contribution to the local economy’, not just in Gillingham but across Dorset.
‘We have been based here for over 40 years and just last year we invested £9 million in an expansion to our distribution centre in Gillingham. We employ over 200 people at our sites in Gillingham and Poole and have a long and proud record of giving back to the community,’ it noted.
‘Over the past number of years, colleagues from our SPARK Programme have worked closely with many of the local schools supporting and promoting STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Maths) activities. We have worked particularly closely with Gillingham Secondary school on their annual STEM day and have rolled out this free initiative to five other schools in the local area.
‘We have also donated nearly 200kg of food from our Gillingham site alone to the local food bank and will be organising another initiative this Christmas. As well as this, we have donated over £23,000 to local STEM based causes in the area in the last year alone.
‘Merck, Gillingham was also recently featured on BBC Radio Dorset for the vital contribution our site makes to Merck globally in the fight against Covid-19. Our efforts in ensuring vital medicines and ingredients are getting to academics and researchers who are on the front-line in battling Covid-19 was rightly highlighted.’
The company says that any final decision on the use of its design would be left to its local management.
Gillingham News is still awaiting a reply from Dorset Council on the issue.