‘Gum firms should help with the clean-up costs’

Modern scourge: It costs 3p to buy a stick of gum but �1.50 to clean it off the street and Blackpool Council has backed calls that chewing gum companies should be made to foot some of the bill
Modern scourge: It costs 3p to buy a stick of gum but �1.50 to clean it off the street and Blackpool Council has backed calls that chewing gum companies should be made to foot some of the bill
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Town hall chiefs have backed a demand for extra cash from big business to help end the scourge of chewing gum.

The Local Government Association (LGA) wants chewing gum manufacturers to make a “substantial” contribution to the estimated £60m annual cost of removing gum from Britain’s streets.

It is calling for a “producer pays” principle to be introduced, so manufacturers are obliged to help shoulder some of the clean-up cost.

Blackpool Council, which has launched clean up campaigns in the resort in the past, said it would support the idea - but insisted the cash should go direct to town halls, and not the Government.

Coun Amy Cross, Blackpool Council cabinet member for streetscene and the environment, said: “I agree with the LGA and would be supportive of this scheme.

“However, I would want to see 100 per cent of the proceeds go to local authorities who have to do the practical work to tackle the problem.

“This would not be to swell the Government coffers – this would be a practical way of dealing with a particular problem.

“The best thing, however, would be for people not to drop gum in the first place.”

LGA environment spokesman councillor Peter Box said: “Chewing gum is a plague on our pavements.

“It is a blight which costs councils a fortune to clean up and takes hours of hard work to remove.

“It’s ugly, it’s unsightly and it’s unacceptable.

“The UK gum industry is a multimillion-pound business and we believe in the principle of the ‘polluter’ paying.

“The chewing gum giants should be making a substantial contribution to help with the sterling work that councils are doing in removing it.

“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.

“They are doing the right thing, but unfortunately the manufacturers are not.”

The average piece of gum costs about 3p to buy but around £1.50 – 50 times that price – to clean up, according to the LGA.