More than 40 councils across the UK have been awarded grants of up to £70,000 to remove chewing gum stains from pavements.

This comes as the Government sets its sights on cracking down on litter found in high streets from today (August 6).

Bolton Council is among the first winners of funding that is part of the Government’s new Chewing Gum Task Force alongside Bury and Pendle.

The Task Force was established by Defra and is run by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy and it hopes to clean chewing gum off pavements and prevent it from happening in the first place by applying measures.

The Bolton News: A person picking up litter (Canva)A person picking up litter (Canva)

Both Bury Council and Bolton Council are two of the 44 councils set to receive a total of £1.25 million funding this summer.

Estimates suggest that the annual clean up cost for removing chewing gum for councils in the UK is around £7 million.

According to Keep Britain Tidy, gum has stained around 87% of England’s streets.

The funding announced today is the first tranche of a package worth up to £10 million from major gum manufacturers including Mars Wrigley and Perfetti Van Melle to tackle chewing gum stains and the investment is set to be spread over five years.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Littering blights our towns and costs taxpayers money. Working with responsible gum manufacturers, we are now giving councils extra help to clean up our cities and towns.

“This means we can double down on regenerating our high streets, boosting local economies and levelling up communities across the country.” 

What will the funding cover?

£70,000 for several council partnerships - including Bury and Bolton, Camden and Brent, and Nottingham and Derby.

Grants of up to £20,000 for councils including Leicester, Hull, Croydon, Southend, Lewisham and Colchester to buy cleaning equipment and they’ll receive signage to warn people not to litter gum - previous pilots run by Mars Wrigley and not-for-profit Behaviour Change using this signage have reduced gum littering by up to 64%.

Monitoring of gum litter levels (long-term) and the effects of intervention for four councils including Belfast, Birmingham, Glasgow and Newport.

Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, Chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: “This is an exciting new opportunity for councils to tackle the ongoing problem of gum pollution.

“The grants will allow councils to clean up historic gum litter staining in our towns and cities, as well as taking action to prevent people littering in the first place.”

The Bolton News: Litter on the ground (Canva)Litter on the ground (Canva)

Ana Baptista, Corporate Affairs Director, Mars Wrigley UK, said: “Mars Wrigley has invested in campaigns to tackle litter across the UK for many years. Through our partnership with Behaviour Change we have developed interventions proven to reduce gum littering which have already been used by over 100 Councils.

“We are delighted to see these deployed as part of the Chewing Gum Task Force Grant Scheme and look forward to having many more Councils on board.”

Hayley Osborne Communications and Sustainability Manager for Perfetti Van Melle, said: “As a manufacture of gum products we are aware of the unfortunate impact our products can cause to cities and towns. By working together with industry peers, councils, and customers, we can also help be part of the solution, helping to clean-up our streets and educating consumers on the importance of safe gum disposal. 

“In addition, we are also working on our own campaigns to support our customers, with on-package signage and labelling to help work towards a circular, long-term solution.”

This forms part of the Government’s new strategy to support high streets across the country through evolution and regeneration.

This includes 15 Town Deals totalling £335 million to fund a variety of things including community regeneration projects, the transformation of derelict buildings, and communities being given the chance to own local pubs, theatres, sports grounds and corner shops.

Littering is a criminal offence and the UK Government has strengthened the enforcement powers of local authorities. It has done this by increasing on-the-spot penalties for littering to £150 in England.

Councils also have the ability to take offenders to court. This can result in a fine of up to £2,500 if the offender is convicted.

The Government will be able to make sure that enforcement powers are used with a high degree of professionalism through the Environment Act, whether by council staff or private contractors, and place our improved enforcement guidance on a firm statutory footing.

The Government also plans to launch a deposit return scheme for drinks containers, extended producer responsibility for packaging and consistent recycling collections.