Archive for August, 2010

Gum removal machine will transform our streets

I have been reading with interest some of the negative reaction to the council’s purchase of a gum removal machine.

Our city is the chosen destination for over eight million tourists every year and their repeat visits are something businesses rely upon. I would much rather that visitors thought our city clean, inviting and full of things to do, than ‘interesting but grimy’. Put simply, how the City looks is vital to our continued economic well-being.

Some of the criticisms levelled around value for money, I’m afraid I just don’t accept. The ‘Local Authority Machine’ is being supplied by specialist cleansing firm Gum Clear. The council has done a deal on the technology, which involved helping develop the device and demonstrating it to other local authorities, to secure a discount of around £30,000 on the normal price of £123,000. It will clear around 200 metres of pavements an hour, lifting anything from up to 40 pieces of gum a metre.

The machine is a vast improvement on older technologies because it sucks up and recycles 97% of the water it uses. Earlier machines would blast water with high-pressure pumps, often spraying dirt onto shop fronts, blocking drains and damaging the pavements.

Councils pay up to £3,000 when they employ contractors to clear gum, usually treating around 2,500 metres of pavements each time. Doing this job in-house could reduce Brighton & Hove City Council’s costs to just £400 a day, making savings of thousands over the coming months and enabling far more cleaning. We will also look to recoup the initial costs by hiring out the machine.

The chewing gum industry is worth £300 million a year, yet Brighton & Hove has been saddled with a yearly bill of around £25,000 cleaning up the mess. I’m declaring war on this dreadful blight on our city’s streets. I want visitors to Brighton & Hove to be greeted by sparkling clean pavements, not by the unpleasant sight of sticky gum stains. By investing in this machine we hope to rescue our beautiful urban landscape from this menace. But we also need residents and visitors to do their bit by putting chewing gum in the bin rather than throwing it on the ground.

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August 2010