Leeds City Council has teamed up with Keep Britain Tidy in a joint effort to combat the pervasive issue of discarded chewing gum that mars the bustling streets of the city centre. Their collaboration has been made possible through a successful bid for a substantial grant of £24,994.50 from the chewing gum task force.

The allocated funding will be put to effective use by conducting a thorough deep cleaning operation at two prominent locations in the city centre. Additionally, a special pavement protector will be applied to make it more challenging for gum to adhere in the future.

To complement these physical measures, an extensive behaviour change campaign will be launched, appealing to the public to reconsider dropping gum on the streets while in the city centre.

The implementation of the deep clean, pavement protector, and behaviour change campaign is scheduled for September and will specifically target Boar Lane/Lower Briggate and Lower Lands Lane.

The collaboration also involves Leeds Business Improvement District, working in tandem to ensure the city centre becomes cleaner, safer, and more accessible to all by encouraging responsible disposal of chewing gum.

The chewing gum task force grant scheme, established by Defra and administered by Keep Britain Tidy, offers an opportunity for councils across the UK to address the gum litter issue in their respective areas. The primary focus of the initiative is to promote long-term behaviour change, aiming to prevent gum from being discarded in the first place.

The task force’s funding is generously provided by major gum manufacturers such as Mars Wrigley and Perfetti Van Melle, with their investment being spread over a five-year period. This significant support enables ongoing efforts to combat gum litter and its detrimental impact on the urban environment.

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council executive member for climate, energy, environment and green space, said “It is great news that the council have been able to secure funding to tackle the issue of chewing gum in the city centre and trial this new approach for our city I am looking forward to seeing cleaner streets once the project has been rolled out.

“I would encourage anyone visiting Leeds to think twice about dropping gum, as it is a real blight on our streets and wastes valuable taxpayers’ money that could be spent elsewhere.”

Karen Butler, LeedsBID’s director of place and engagement said “Our Street Rangers team works extensively to remove gum from the city’s pavements and pedestrianised areas. It’s good to know the project will not only try to prevent chewing gum from sticking to our streets and walkways but will also be encouraging behaviour change to tackle the issue.”

Estimates suggest the annual clean-up cost of chewing gum for councils in the UK is around seven million pounds and according to Keep Britain Tidy, around 77% of England’s streets and 99% of retail sites are stained with gum.