New technology which could help Leamington to have “the most chewing-gum free high street in England” was demonstrated in the town centre this week.
As part of Clean Up Britain’s ongoing Now or Never anti-litter campaign in the town, founder John Read invited co-inventors Martin Whitbread and Laurence Morse of Steam-E to showcase their Gum-E steam cleaning devices in the Parade on Monday.
By using just one litre of water for two-hours of cleaning work , compared to the 1,200 litres in one hour that conventional high-pressure jet washers use, the battery powered machines are environmentally friendly and can help to reduce the £60 million a year council’s spend on removing gum from pavements.
Mr Read said: “Between the junctions of Warwick Street and Regent Street we counted 8,600 pieces of chewing gum on the Parade. This is a massive problem.
“There are literally hundreds of millions of these black blotches on Britain’s high streets and the problem is so bad that people have become psychologically tuned-out to it.
“Historically it’s been incredibly and prohibitively expensive for council’s to clean up chewing gum and not only is it very unsightly and ugly it also contains xylitol which is a sweetener which is very toxic to dogs.
"There is a massive benefit of doing this not just by cleaning up but by changing people’s hearts and minds about dropping chewing gum - it’s a win-win.”
The British- made cleaning technology costs about £3,500 per unit and just £2.50 an hour to run.
Units have been used globally including in Dubai, Australia and at the Berlin Wall in Germany.
Mr Whitbread said that to clean the majority of the chewing gum off the pavements in the town centre would take between eight to ten weeks but that once that was done fortnightly cleans would be enough to keep on top of the issue.
Cllr Moira Ann Grainger, Warwick District Council’s portfolio holder for neighbourhood services, said she was “really impressed” by the technology and the authority would be considering its use across the district in the future.