CHEWING gum littering Bournemouth’s streets is to be tackled by the council for the first time in five years.

Cleaners have been out in the town centre this week with equipment designed to remove the hardened confectionary from the pavement with steam, part of a trial to determine the costs and timescales of a full clean.

Martin Dominey, applying the £15,000 washer in the Square on Friday lunchtime, said: “It has taken two days to clean this bit between Nat West and WH Smiths, about 30 yards away.

“We have been out every day this week since Monday cleaning different areas.”

When the last gum clean-up in the town centre and Boscombe precinct was carried out in 2008, at a cost of around £25,000, the streets were back to normal just six months later.

Bournemouth central councillor David Smith said the council was approaching contractors about the work and also about more regular cleans in future to prevent the gum building up.

He said: “It was very frustrating the last time we cleaned up the gum, we had spent all this money on it and six months later it was as if nothing had happened.

“It is littering and it is disgusting. If we can get rid of the gum from our streets the town will be a more pleasant place to live and to visit.

“Often the worst areas are outside takeaways, where people drop their gum before buying food. The Triangle is particularly bad at the moment.

“There is a £70 fine if you are caught dropping it but so far none has been given out because you rarely see anyone doing it.”

Cllr Smith said the council was hoping the new equipment would be quicker than the old washers and less disruptive.

“Hopefully we will be able to fund a deep clean and then a more regular clean-up to keep on top of the problem,” he said.

“Ideally of course people will just put their chewing gum in the bin. It is taxpayers’ money which has to be used to clear it up.”

Fighting the battle

BOURNEMOUTH council has used a variety of tactics in its on-going battle against chewing gum litter.

In 2002 it launched boards called GumTargets which invited people to stick their gum on different sections to respond to questions or on the faces of unpopular celebrities.

The award-winning scheme was cancelled after an 18-month trial period following complaints.

In 2008 the council spent around £25,000 on a six-week clean up of the town’s streets .

In 2011 councillors overwhelmingly backed a motion put to the government to force chewing gum companies to contribute to the clean-up costs through a tax on its manufacture.

The proposal was turned down by the government.

Cllr David Smith, who backed the motion, said: “It is a blatantly obvious solution to the problem.”