Should sweet makers pay millions to help remove chewing gum from streets in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich and Colchester?

PUBLISHED: 10:09 15 April 2017 | UPDATED: 11:28 15 April 2017

Shoppers in a bustling Bury town centre.

Shoppers in a bustling Bury town centre.


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

File photo of a council worker cleaning gum from a pavement. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA WireFile photo of a council worker cleaning gum from a pavement. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

The problem, which costs the council 10p for each piece of gum they clean up, has escalated in towns like Colchester, Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich over the past few years.

Nationally, a Keep Britain Tidy study found 99% of shopping streets and 64% of all roads and pavements in England and Wales were stained by gum.

While the average piece of gum costs around 3p to buy, the Local Government Association (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 needs to be removed using specialist equipment.

Colchester GV: High Street Colchester GV: High Street

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.”

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1 comment

  • Brilliant! It's the chewing gum manufacturers fault that it's customers spit the gum out onto the pavement. By that same logic then, the LGA should therefore ALSO accuse every single beer manufacturer of the same crime, since the streets and hedgerows are filled with far more empty beer and larger cans, fast food restaurants eg McD's and KFC for having far more polystyrene packaging cluttering up the same pavements and hedgerows (but since these outlets also pay the councils quite reasonable rates, I doubt very much they would wish to bite the hands that feed the councils) and of course, if the LGA feel that chewing gum is an unsightly blight, then oh my, what about the disgusting remains left by the tobacco industry? Hmm? But since councils - and this includes SCC, invest their pension funds very heavily in tobacco companies, then I doubt very much that the LGA's would seek to make tobacco companies pay to clean the streets also. Sauce for the goose, LGS, sauce for the goose.

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