Ex-city chief helps tackle a sticky prob­lem


FOR­MER city coun­cil leader Mike Whitby has ploughed in­vest­ment into a Black Coun­try firm which man­u­fac­tures ma­chines ca­pa­ble of re­mov­ing chew­ing gum.

Lord Whitby of Har­borne, who was leader of Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil for eight years un­til 2012, has in­vested an undis­closed, six-fig­ure sum into Smeth­wick­based Eco Re­moval Sys­tems.

He is now chair­man of the firm which sup­plies its ma­chines to venues such as Wem­b­ley Sta­dium, Chelsea and Liver­pool football clubs and cities across Europe. The firm has grown to 11 staff.

Sales man­ager Paul John­ston said: “Chew­ing gum is a ma­jor bug­bear world­wide.

“Up to 65 per cent of chil­dren chew gum ev­ery day and there are up to eight mil­lion bac­te­ria in a piece of gum on the pave­ment.

“In Ox­ford Street in Lon­don, it has been re­ported that West­min­ster Coun­cil spends up to £1.5 mil­lion a year re­mov­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of pieces of chew­ing gum from their streets.

“We have got ma­chines at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium, Stam­ford Bridge, An­field. We have sup­plied Wim­ble­don for the ten­nis.

“We are also in shop­ping cen­tres across the world, in­clud­ing in Spain, France, Italy, Ger­many, the USA, South Africa, Chile and Saudi Ara­bia.

“We had two busi­ness part­ners here from Moscow re­cently pur­chas­ing our ma­chines for shop­ping cen­tres.”

Lord Whitby, who is also non-ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of sup­port group Made In The Mid­lands, added: “Eco Re­moval Sys­tems is a su­perb tem­plate for Made In The Mid­lands and its goals and for man­u­fac­tur­ers through­out the UK to en­cour­age a cru­cial part of the UK econ­omy to take up the ex­port chal­lenge and dra­mat­i­cally in­crease our vol­ume of global ex­ports, which is so vi­tal to the well-be­ing of UK plc.

“I am ex­cited about this op­por­tu­nity be­cause I be­lieve in Bri­tain’s abil­ity to man­u­fac­ture and ex­port glob­ally.”

> Mike Whitby and the ma­chine which re­moves chew­ing gum

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