Leeds City Council has successfully secured a grant of £24,994.50 from The Chewing Gum Task Force to implement new measures aimed at addressing the issue of discarded chewing gum, which mars the city centre.

The funds have been allocated for a one-time extensive cleaning and the application of pavement protector. This protective coating facilitates the easier removal of gum and reduces staining. The initiative covers two key areas in the city centre: the vicinity of Boar Lane and Briggate intersection, as well as the lower section of Lands Lane.

This effort is complemented by specially designed signage intended to influence behaviour. These signs encourage individuals to think twice before disposing of their gum in the city centre.

In collaboration with the Leeds Business Improvement District, the deep clean and signage initiatives are aimed at maintaining a cleaner, safer, and more accessible city centre. They seek to promote responsible disposal of chewing gum among the public.

The chewing gum task force grant scheme, established by Defra and managed by the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, is available to councils across the UK wishing to combat gum litter in their local areas and promote long-term behavioural changes to prevent gum disposal in the first place.

The task force receives funding from major gum manufacturers, including Mars Wrigley and Perfetti Van Melle, with this investment spread over a five-year period.

Evaluations conducted by the chewing gum task force have demonstrated that areas benefiting from last year’s funding experienced reductions in gum littering of up to 80% within the initial two months. Furthermore, a sustained decrease in gum littering was observed even six months after the clean-up and installation of prevention signage.

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council executive member for climate, energy, environment and green space, said “It is great news that we have secured this additional funding to roll out these innovative measures to tackle the issue of chewing gum in the city centre, trialling a approach that will hopefully lead to cleaner streets going forward.

“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. If you chew gum, put it in a bin or wrap it in some paper until you can find a bin”

Estimates indicate that the annual clean-up expenditure for councils in the UK is approximately seven million pounds. According to Keep Britain Tidy, roughly 77% of England’s streets and 99% of retail locations bear stains from gum.