It is a sticky problem and it blights most towns and cities. It ruins your clothes and shoes and the pavements. It also costs thousands of pounds to clean up. And yet it can look so innocent when it’s in the packet.
Chewing gum is a long-standing problem for councils up and down the country and the most common form of litter thrown on our city streets. Shops that sell it must accept some of the responsibility and get on board with a campaign, being launched by Brighton & Hove City Council, by encouraging customers to dispose of their gum in a considerate way.
The citywide campaign, funded by Defra’s Chewing Gum Action Group, will encourage people to change their behaviour by owning up to dropping gum and promising to change their ways.
But the campaign also has a serious message and aims to raise awareness of the consequences for those who continue to drop their gum on the pavements. Posters and vinyl pavement adverts will warn gum chewers that dropping their litter could result in a £75 fixed penalty fine.
The campaign is focussing on four of the worst areas of the city for chewing gum stains – Pelham Steet, North Road, West Street and Queens Road.
Last week the council steamed cleaned areas of the pavement to illustrate just how good gum-free streets can look and to monitor the amount of gum dropped.
Steam cleaning is a time consuming and expensive process. To clean gum off every pavement in the city would cost the council around £4.5 million. In addition, there’s the unknown costs to residents and visitors whose shoes and clothes are damaged by discarded gum.
On Friday, 14th September, students from City College will join environment councillor Geoffrey Theobald to launch the campaign. The students have agreed to act as ‘ambassadors’ for the campaign within the college, encouraging their fellow students to think twice before dropping gum.
Phil Frier, Principal of City College says, “We are delighted to be working with the council to promote the chewing gum campaign within the college and into the wider community.
“It’s great to see the pavement outside the college looking so clean and we aim to keep it that way. With thousands of new students arriving to start their new college courses it’s an ideal time to get everyone on board and to really make a difference.”
Students will be encouraging their classmates to take the pledge to dispose of their gum properly – by wrapping it in paper and throwing in the bin. Those who promise to do so will be entered into a prize draw to win wind up radios.
The council is also working with local businesses, particularly shops selling chewing gum encouraging them to display posters and give away ‘gum wrappers’ to dispose of finished gum.
Councillor Geoffrey Theobald, Chairman of the council’s environment committee says, ”Dropping gum has been tolerated for far too long and it’s time the problem was tackled from all sides. Support from the college students will be invaluable in getting the message across. This campaign will educate, inform and encourage gum chewers to change habits but will not shy away from prosecuting those who continue to drop gum on our pavements.”
Brighton & Hove is one of 16 local authorities receiving government funding to run chewing gum campaigns. All the authorities have been provided with national campaign material including posters.
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