Gummed up streets bring fine reprisal

YOBS who spit out chewing gum onto Huntingdon s recently re-paved High Street could soon face on-the-spot fines between £75 and £100 under new environmental protection laws. Barely weeks after the new £550,000 paving scheme was completed, it is already di

YOBS who spit out chewing gum onto Huntingdon's recently re-paved High Street could soon face on-the-spot fines between £75 and £100 under new environmental protection laws.

Barely weeks after the new £550,000 paving scheme was completed, it is already disfigured by hundreds of white blobs of hard-to-remove goo.

With the re-paving, Huntingdonshire District Council installed new litter bins with ashtrays for discarded cigarette butts. However, while smokers have started to use the new facilities, gum-chewers have continued to spit.

HDC is now considering using new powers to fine people seen spitting out gum.

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"It's almost exclusively a Huntingdon problem, and we are not clear why that should be so," said the council's head of environment Richard Preston. "But it is a persistent and enduring problem in the town.

"We have not yet decided to use the new fixed penalty powers but we keep it under constant view and may decide to do so."

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The district council has to mount special exercises to clean gum off the High Street every six or 12 months, using either high pressure steam jets or liquid nitrogen to freeze it into a brittle state.

The new paving has been designed to minimise the removal problem, Mr Preston said. "The stones that were laid last year were treated in advance to ensure as far as possible that constituents of gum could not penetrate the stones. That should make it easier to remove without making the surface too slippery to walk on.

"Airports use the same technology to prevent fuel spills damaging runways."

The problems would be less obvious as the paving stones aged and discoloured, he predicted. "Short of banning gum, there's little else we can do," he said.

What you think:

GOOD PLAN: Janet Jermy, 72, a retired sheltered housing worker from Alconbury Weston said: "I think it's a good idea as gum makes such a disgusting mess of the streets and people's shoes. If it stops people from spitting it out on the floor then it's a good idea regardless of the amount they are being fined."

FINE IDEA: Lynne Thompson, 36, an accountant from Huntingdon, said: "£80 is quite a lot of money I think £20 would be better but I definitely agree with a fine as Huntingdon does seem to have a problem with gum on the streets."

USE BINS: Kathryn Munden, 53, a retired health service worker from Hartford said: "I think it's a good idea - I chew gum but I never spit it out on the floor, I use a bin. It's disgusting when you tread on it and it gets stuck to your shoes."

ZERO TOLERANCE: Postman, Brendan Smith, 29 from Huntingdon said: "There should be zero tolerance on the dropping of litter, cigarettes and chewing gum. It makes me angry when I see chewing gum on the pavement as tax payers money is being used to clean it up. Since the new paving has gone down in the High Street I haven't noticed as much gum but there still is some. The fine is probably too excessive but I agree with the principle of it."

LOWER FINE: Matthew Mosley, 35, unemployed from Huntingdon said: "The fine seems a bit steep. People who spit out gum on the street should face a fine but not that much."

REASONABLE: Edward Hanby, 69, a retired RAF worker from Hartford, said: "I think it's a good idea, it's a reasonably amount and people should be fined for spitting their gum out on the pavement.

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