Campaign will be sticking to its gum

Up and down the country local authorities will be launching campaigns to tackle the persistent problem of pavements littered with patches of chewing gum.

15 urban councils have been given funding by the national Chewing Gum Action Group (CGAG) to help them deal with gum litter.

Each campaign will include prominent adverts encouraging responsible gum disposal as well as an enforcement blitz to persuade those who won't change their ways to think again.

There has been fierce competition for the funding as dozens of councils are keen for extra help in dealing with the issue.

While spitting or throwing gum on the street is often seen by the public as more of a nuisance than a crime, the build up of gum can contribute to making town centres look shabby and uninviting, having a genuine effect on civic morale.

Ben Bradshaw, Minister for Environmental Quality, said: "Gum litter is a major problem, and it's going to be hard work changing people's attitudes and behaviour.

"However, each of these campaigns have the innovation to educate people in refreshing ways, as well as a hard-line approach to enforcement.

"It's this approach which made last year's pilots a success, and it's this approach which the Chewing Gum Action Group believes will create less gum litter in the first place."

Previous attempts to combat the scourge of gum have ranged from financial penalties for offenders to a more quirky approach.

They have included the introduction of spot fines of up to £50 under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 and attaching 'sticking boards' - metal plates adorned with celebrities' faces which gum chewers are encouraged to deface - to municipal bins.

The councils to receive funding are Bristol City, Chesterfield, Colchester, Hertsmere, Horsham, Kensington, Lancaster, Leeds, Lewisham, Medway, Plymouth, Solihull and Stoke on Trent, Trafford and Wigan.

Pilot projects took place last year in Maidstone, Manchester and Preston and found the threat of enforcement of fines was major deterrent.

The three councils also used a series of catchy advertisements, with the message thanks for binning your gum when you're done which helped to raise awareness of the problem.

Mr Bradshaw said: "The pilots last year gave us a good idea of what worked, and what didn't. The new campaigns will hopefully use that experience to create greater reductions in gum litter.

"But gum litter is an issue across the country, so there is no reason why every local authority should not at least look at the guide we have sent them, and then seriously consider running campaigns of their own."

by Sam Bond




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