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Confectioners urged to help tackle blight of chewing gum on streets

Sweet manufacturers are facing demands to help with the multi-million pound clean-up of discarded chewing gum blighting the country's high streets.

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

The Local Government Association (LGA) also urged manufacturers to switch to biodegradable gums which are easier to clean up.

The call comes after Keep Britain Tidy found 99% of main shopping streets and 64% of all roads and pavements were stained by gum.

While the average piece of gum costs around 3p to buy, the 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 requires specialised equipment to remove.

The LGA said assistance from the industry would release funds for hard-pressed councils to fill in more than a million potholes.

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.

"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.

"Councils want to work with the industry to find solutions to this ongoing problem. The industry needs to go a lot further, faster, in tackling this issue."

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