Sticky is­sue that needs a new approach

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Open For Business -

The unini­ti­ated walk­ing around Ash­ford town cen­tre may won­der what the thou­sands of white blobs on the pave­ment are.

No, they’re not pi­geon drop­pings – they are the down­trod­den residue of chew­ing gum, care­lessly dropped on the pave­ment by the chewer.

Ash­ford is no dif­fer­ent to any other town or city in the UK in hav­ing an abun­dance of chew­ing gum blobs ev­ery­where.

But it’s maybe not that supris­ing when you con­sider that ap­par­ently 28 mil­lion Bri­tons spend £400 mil­lion a year on the habit.

And, of the 13,000 tonnes of gum that are chewed every year, an es­ti­mated 10% is spat out on to the street, re­sult­ing in an an­nual clean-up bill es­ti­mated to be as high as £150m!

It usu­ally takes work­men/ women for coun­cils like Ash­ford at least 10 sec­onds to re­move one blob. It costs three pence to make a stick or piece of gum, and about £1.50 to re­move it from a pave­ment.

Over­all the fig­ures are fairly hor­ri­fy­ing. There are said to be 250,000 pieces of old gum on Lon­don’s Ox­ford Street alone.

So we reckon it’s about time Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil (ABC) con­sid­ered fol­low­ing the lead of other towns and cities in in­tro­duc­ing ded­i­cated chew­ing gum bins.

It’s been done in Cardiff, for ex­am­ple, where a pi­lot project to try to help clean up the city’s streets has seen 100 bins, called Gum­drops, in place for six months ini­tially, with the gum col­lected in the bins re­cy­cled to pro­duce new bins.

The scheme is funded by a chew­ing gum firm and run in part­ner­ship with Cardiff coun­cil and Keep Wales Tidy.

It’s a zero-tol­er­ance cam­paign, a bit like the one that ABC now op­er­ates in Ash­ford town cen­tre to com­bat lit­ter drop­ping gen­er­ally.

Sian O’Keefe, se­nior man­ager of cor­po­rate af­fairs at Wrigley, said the com­pany was pleased to be in­volved in the Cardiff project, adding: “En­cour­ag­ing be­hav­iour change is the only long-term and sus­tain­able solution to the prob­lem of lit­tered gum and we are to­tally com­mit­ted to tack­ling this is­sue.”

The gov­ern­ment has pre­vi­ously con­sid­ered a £50 fine for any­one caught drop­ping chew­ing gum in the street and looked at ban­ning the sale of gum in shops around schools and swim­ming pools to de­ter chil­dren from leav­ing it ev­ery­where.

ABC has demon­strated that it is com­mit­ted to keep­ing our streets clean by en­gag­ing King­dom lit­ter en­force­ment of­fi­cers to pa­trol the town cen­tre, so we reckon a valu­able fur­ther step would be to look at the pos­si­bil­ity of in­stalling some chew­ing gum bins.

And if it could se­cure spon­sor­ship, the cost would be min­i­mal but the ben­e­fits huge.

A few weeks back we out­lined the is­sue of hav­ing two Christ­mas trees dumped at the back of the Ken­tish Ex­press of­fices in Park Street.

They’ve been there now for about six weeks and are now start­ing to shed their nee­dles.

We have un­for­tu­nately drawn a blank in es­tab­lish­ing the iden­tity of who dumped them there... although we have our sus­pi­cions as re­cy­cling and food waste bins (prob­a­bly from the same source) ap­pear on the same path each week, wait­ing to be emp­tied by the Biffa bin­men.

We have con­tacted ABC about get­ting the Christ­mas trees taken away but have been told that be­cause they are on pri­vate prop­erty is is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to take them away.

Fair enough, but it seems a bit ridicu­lous that we have to clear up what is, in ef­fect, fly-tip­ping on our back doorstep.

We are cur­rently con­sid­er­ing our op­tions, as they say.

Chew­ing gum stuck on a shoe; chew­ing gum bin; Christ­mas trees dumped out­side the back of the Ken­tish Ex­press of­fice

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