New call for sweet manufacturers to tackle gum clean-up

The stone in Cathedral Sqaure, Peterborough, is left stained when gum is removed.
The stone in Cathedral Sqaure, Peterborough, is left stained when gum is removed.
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Sweet manufacturers urged to help tackle gum clean-up on Peterborough streets.

Sweet manufacturers are facing demands to help with the multi-million pound clean-up of discarded chewing gum blighting the country’s high streets - including Peterborough.

Discarded chewing gum in Cathedral Square, Peterborough.

Discarded chewing gum in Cathedral Square, Peterborough.

Councils in England and Wales want the industry to contribute towards the £60 million-a-year cost of removing gum from roads and pavements.

The Local Government Association (LGA) also urged manufacturers to switch to biodegradable gums which are easier to clean up.

The call comes after Keep Britain Tidy found 99% of main shopping streets and 64% of all roads and pavements were stained by gum.

While the average piece of gum costs around 3p to buy, the LGA said it costs councils up to 50 times that, £1.50, to clean up a square metre of pavement.

Because most gum currently sold is not biodegradable, once it is trodden into the surface it requires specialised equipment to remove.

The LGA said assistance from the industry would release funds for hard-pressed councils to fill in more than a million potholes.

LGA environment spokeswoman Judith Blake said: “Chewing gum is a plague on our pavements. It’s ugly, it’s unsightly and it’s unacceptable.

“At a time when councils face considerable ongoing funding pressures, this is a growing cost pressure they could do without.“It is therefore reasonable to expect chewing gum manufacturers to help more, both by switching to biodegradable gum and by contributing to the cost of clearing it up.

“Councils have no legal obligation to clear up the gum.They do it for the benefit of their shoppers, town centre users, businesses and residents; to make the pavements more attractive and the environment better.

“Councils want to work with the industry to find solutions to this ongoing problem. The industry needs to go a lot further, faster, in tackling this issue.”

The issue of carelessly discarded gum has been a long running one in Peterborough.

The Peterborough Telegraph has campaigned against the blight on city streets and, in 2014, Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said: “I think there are three things that annoy people in the city - spitting, cycling in Bridge Street outside the permitted hours and chewing gum on the floor. “In the past the council had a street warden system in place, and it would be good to bring back something like that. “Other authorities have taken a tough line on it, and we should be doing the same.”

At that time Chris Jackson, head of streetcare at Amey, which is responsible for the city’s waste management, said: “We use specialist equipment designed to remove chewing gum from hard surfaces. During this process we can remove up to 700 pieces of chewing gum per day.

“However, when chewing gum is removed, a stain is unfortunately left on the pavement.”

A council spokesman said residents caught dropping gum can be fined £75 - reduced to £50 if paid within 21 days.