Action launched to stop gum littering
A MASS clean-up operation could be rolled out across Swindon as part of the council’s attempts to curb the littering of chewing gum on the streets.
At the full council meeting in July, councillors unanimously condemned the dropping of chewing gum, and planned to introduce a bylaw cracking down on the habit.
If caught, offenders could be fined up to £2,500 after a summary conviction.
Coun Derique Montaut, who brought the motion before the council, said plans are underway to organise a council-led clean-up of major shopping districts around the town.
“We are making progress, but at a cost,” he said.
“I have been discussing with officers about a general clean up operation, taking place in the main shopping centres to highlight the problems we have in cleaning up chewing gum.
“It would be council officers involved in the clean-up operation, including some from a senior level. It is always a good opportunity to look at a wide range of issues. It is that kind of direct engagement we are looking for.”
The enforcement of the new bylaw is causing concern for councillors, who are trying to find out the best option to take.
“We cannot bring in something radical unless we are determined to deal with it,” said Coun Montaut.
“We have been looking at a number of options. You could have an enforcement officer to deal specifically with enforcement orders for chewing gum, or you could make every council officer an enforcement officer.
“The other alternative is to have a limited amount of people, using cleaners in the town centre or traffic wardens in the community. For street cleaning there is specific machinery that needs to be brought in, which costs money.
“It is a concept of changing the culture. We want to be one of the leading local authorities raising this issue, but resources are valuable, with £40,000 being spent on cleaning up the town centre.”
After Wrigley’s lent its support to the campaign, Swindon Council has been coordinating with the firm to consider the best way to take plans forward.
“We will be having a meeting with Wrigley’s on August 30 to discuss the issue of chewing gum, but there will be a wide range of issues being discussed. After raising this in full council we have prioritised the cleaning of chewing gum in shopping precincts.
“I am not going to allow this to stay still. This is the first time I have not had a backlash to a proposal, and it seems as though there is a great deal of support.
“There is a wide range of issues relating to health we need to consider, such as the spread of TB starting to increase through spitting.
“There used to be a heavy penalty for spitting, and during that prohibition there was a definite decline in cases of TB. We all have a vested interest in this.”
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