THOUSANDS of pounds will be spent to rid Southend High Street of chewing gum and installing signs ordering people not to dump their gum. 

A national chewing gum crack team has awarded Southend Council £20,000 to buy equipment to remove chewing gum stains which have become a “bane on the High Street”. 

Southend is among the first council across the country to receive cash as part of the Government’s new Chewing Gum Task Force and Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for the environment, said it is much-needed. 

She said: “Firstly it is great to be one of the councils selected.

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“I’m not sure how far £20,000 will go, but chewing gum is a bane for any authority in their high streets and on pavements.

“The trouble is you can’t have people running around and picking it all the time, so you have to have a blitz, and so this money will help immeasurably in clearing it up.”

She added: “I think what we have got to then do is have a sort of campaign along with it, to try and get people to stop dropping their chewing gum on the floor, because it is a pain in the neck, and an endless cycle otherwise.

“I will be talking to the officers to make sure we have some campaign that once people see it being cleaned up, we have got to try and keep it that way.

“I think the signs will really help with that, and to hear the success of the pilot is brilliant.

“We will just have to then keep that momentum up.”

The task force, established by Defra and run by the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, aims to clean gum off pavements and put in measures to stop it being dropped in the first place.

The grants will enable councils to purchase cleaning equipment to get gum stains off the floors, as well as signage to warn people not to litter with gum.

Previous pilots run using signage has shown to reduced gum littering by up to 64 per cent.

Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, added: “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.”