A SENIOR Bournemouth cabinet member has backed calls for chewing gum manufacturers to develop a non-sticky alternative to save councils tens of thousands of pounds a year.

The Local Government Association is calling for firms such as Wrigley to make a substantial contribution to the bills that councils such as Bournemouth and Poole incur from removing gum from pavements.

It is also pressing for manufacturers to start making products that disintegrate naturally.

Cllr Michael Filer, Bournemouth Borough Council's cabinet member for transport, cleansing and waste, told the Daily Echo: “We've been trying over the last four or five years to actually get some movement in the industry.

“We've approached Wrigley and other manufacturers to see if they will do something on a voluntary basis and nothing has really happened.

“We spend a fortune on cleaning where chewing gum has been dropped, especially in the town centre, and within days it's the same situation.”

Cllr Filer said two things had to be done - better education for the public and a change by manufacturers.

He added: “We will be 100 per cent behind urging everyone in the industry to get a move on and think very carefully and produce the goods.”

The LGA estimates that the annual cost of removing pieces of gum trodden into the pavement has reached £56 million annually across the country.

A spokesman for Wrigley said at the weekend that it took the problem “very seriously” and that it was trying to develop a product that was easier to remove.

“The only long-term solution to this problem is persuading people to dispose of their chewing gum responsibly, as the large majority already do,” the spokesman added.