Gum ban could be the answer to Scotland’s litter problems, says East Dunbartonshire

Photograph Jamie Forbes 30.8.13. KIRKINTILLOCH. Chewing gum on pavement outside Farmfoods in Townhead.
Photograph Jamie Forbes 30.8.13. KIRKINTILLOCH. Chewing gum on pavement outside Farmfoods in Townhead.

A RADICAL solution has been suggested to end the sticky scourge of chewing gum on town centre pavements – outlawing it altogether.

Bringing in a gum ban is just one of the suggestions put forward by the council to the Scottish Government.

The authority has answered a series of questions posed by the Government on plans to crack down on litter and fly-tipping.

In its reponse, the council labels discarded gum “a blight on the environment”.

It adds: “It is costly to remove and stretches council budgets. A lead should be taken from cities such as Singapore where chewing gum has been banned completely.”

And in terms of fly-tipping and litter, the council has backed an increase in fines to act as a greater deterrent.

It has told the Scottish Government: “The level should be increased for fly-tipping to £200, but reduced for prompt payment.

“The current level has remained unchanged for many years and does not reflect the time and effort taken to investigate.”

The council believes it could also be beneficial to raise fixed penalty notices for litter and dog fouling to £100. A meeting of the neighbourhood services committee discussed the issue on Thursday.

Readers had their say on Facebook, with many casting doubt on whether a chewing gum ban would be beneficial or achievable.

Paul Monaghan said: “Nothing wrong with some gum – it’s not hard to dispose of it properly.

“Dog poo on the other hand is disgusting and anyone not picking up after the dog should get fined, with repeat offenders losing the dog and the right to have one.”

Elaine McNamara said: “Anyone that does not pick up their dog mess should be fined more than £100.”

The local authority purchased two chewing gum removal machines in 2009.

Julie Ralston added: “I have seen the chewing gum removal machine. It was out on two consecutive days. It took two days to clean about two square metres!”

Depute leader of the council and convener of neighbourhood services, Ashay Ghai, said: “Anything we can do locally and nationally to make people think twice about dropping litter, spitting out chewing gum, fly-tipping and letting their dogs foul our pavements and open spaces is a step in the right direction.

“Ask anyone about the issues that matter to them and these things come up time and time again so we need to continue to tackle them.

“Steeper fines of £100 for littering and dog fouling is one suggestion the council has made. Not only is it hoped that it will act as a deterrent, but the increase better reflects the expense involved in the enforcement rocess.

“There is a zero tolerance approach to discarded chewing gum across the whole of Singapore where offenders are fined. Chewing gum removal is a very expensive process and the council is suggesting a national solution to deal with it.

“We are seeing more and more chewing gum discarded in areas where we used to find cigarette butts. With the smoking ban came an increase in people chewing gum.

“Our two chewing gum removal machines proved to be neither reliable nor cost-effective so we now use alternative methods such a power washing.”

The council’s response to the Scottish Government’s ‘Towards a Litter-Free Scotland ‘ consultation highlights:

* Changing the mindset of people who do not regard litter as a major problem

* How businesses have a key role to play to reduce packaging

* The importance of catching offenders who litter from vehicles, perhaps using the DVLA computer

* Giving local authotity enforcement officers the power to require names and addresses of alleged litter louts

* Need for discussions on fines for littering and fly-tipping with justice chiefs

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