Former Belfast Lord Mayor Tom Ekin has called for action to put an end to the vast quantities of chewing gum and cigarette stubs littering our streets.
The Alliance Councillor stated: “Recent reports show that chewing gum sales exceed £300 million in UK each year, and have grown by 28% in four years. This is some growth – and some pollution! And it is some waste of rate payers’ money picking it up.
“Cigarette ends and Chewing gum are the biggest litter problems we face. Belfast is forced to spend approximately twice as much rate payers’ money per head as the average UK city on street cleaning, totalling some £10million each year.
“Some work is done to counter this. Over 1000 fixed penalty tickets have been issued in the last nine months, advertising programmes are run, school visits by anti litter educationalists.
“But so far this is an uphill battle against increasing gum sales, and the slowness of people’s attitude change. Our authorities need to take novel action to get to grips with the problem.
“Currently, we look at fancy schemes to pull together several major cities to persuade Wrigleys the profit makers to make the formula more bio degradable, or they help pay for street cleaning, on indeed we might tax the sales to pay for cleaning. None of these has any serious hope of working, just check the history.
“Instead, we in Belfast should consider setting a target to reduce gum littering by 30% through localised education; getting shopkeepers and publicans to start programmes to reduce the littering outside their shops, pubs and restaurants; and ensuring that cinemas and other entertainment venues take responsibility to some extent for the outside of their premises
“The result would be a saving of £3m – £5m every year – just think what we could do constructively with that sort of money. It is up to people to take responsibility and the authorities to show some courage to make this happen.
“We must all show we care enough to keep Belfast Tidy.”