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Warrington is putting plans in place to banish chewing gum from the pavements after receiving a grant to tackle the issue.
The Chewing Gum Task Force, administered by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, has awarded the council £10,435 to clean up gum and reduce gum littering.
It will enable the council to introduce new measures, including a special, eco-friendly machine – known as a ‘gum buster’ - to vaporise unsightly gum from the streets of the town centre.
The targeted street cleaning will be supported by specially designed signage, aimed at changing behaviours and encouraging people to bin their gum.
Warrington is one of 56 councils across the country that have successfully applied for funding from the Chewing Gum Task Force Grant Scheme, which is now in its second year.
Established by Defra and run by Keep Britain Tidy, the grant scheme is open to councils across the UK who wish to clean up gum in their local areas and invest in long-term behaviour change to prevent gum from being dropped in the first place.
The Task Force is funded by major gum manufacturers, including Mars Wrigley and Perfetti Van Melle, with the investment spread over five years. This year the selected councils are receiving funding totalling more than £1.2 million.
Monitoring and evaluation carried out by Behaviour Change has shown that areas that benefitted from last year’s funding saw reductions in gum littering of up to 80% in the first two months, with a reduced rate of gum littering still being observed six months after clean-up and the installation of prevention signage.
Warrington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for environment and public protection, Cllr Hitesh Patel, said: “I’m delighted we’ve been awarded funding to take action on this issue. It will enable us to carry out a blitz on gum in our town centre streets and put in place measures that encourage people to dispose of their chewing gum responsibly.
“This initiative has already delivered great outcomes in other towns and cities, and I’m looking forward to it having an equally positive impact in Warrington.”
Cabinet Member for economic development and innovation, Cllr Tom Jennings, added: “This initiative is a welcome opportunity to use specialist equipment to cleanse our streets, while introducing measures aimed at challenging, educating and changing people’s behaviour around the careless discarding of gum."
Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive, said: “Chewing gum litter is highly visible on our high streets and is both difficult and expensive to clean up, so the support for councils provided by the Chewing Gum Task Force and the gum manufacturers is very welcome.
“However, once the gum has been cleaned up, it is vital to remind the public that when it comes to litter, whether it’s gum or anything else, there is only one place it should be – in the bin – and that is why the behaviour change element of the task force’s work is so important.”
Estimates suggest the annual clean-up cost of chewing gum for councils in the UK is around £7 million and, according to Keep Britain Tidy, around 77% of England’s streets and 99% of retail sites are stained with gum.
In its first year, the Chewing Gum Task Force awarded 44 grants worth a total of £1.2 million, benefitting 53 councils who were able to clean an estimated 2.5km2 of pavement, an area larger than 467 football pitches.
Notes to editors