Chew this over

a sticky situation? photo courtesy of The Daily Mail
a sticky situation? photo courtesy of The Daily Mail

by Kirstyn Smith

Oban and Lorn Tourist Association are calling for a ban to end the sale of chewing gum and the practice of spitting it out in the street.

The Environmental Protection Act states that:  “It is an offence to throw down and leave anything in a manner likely to deface.”   If caught, offenders can be issued with an on-the-spot fine of £50.

Calls for the ban to be introduced throughout the country have received a mixed response.  Ann Royden, from Merchiston Community Council in Edinburgh, believes that a number of factors should be taken into consideration.

“It would be very difficult to enforce – we’re having difficulty enough with the ban on dropping crisp packets and littering.  However, the streets are remarkably messy,” she said.

A number of methods exist to remove chewing gum from blighted streets. Products such as Gum Buster and Zero Gum are amongst the most popular, with Oban Council intending to use a Gum Buster borrowed from Argyll and Bute Council.

However, techniques used at present cost £1,000 a year, whereas it is estimated that using the hi-tech machinary intended would raise costs to £50,000 each year.

The way the law is enforced would also have to be taken into consideration.  Ann Royden is keen to point out that it is not only litter louts who chew gum.

“There are a number of elderly people who chew gum as a way to ease Dry Mouth Syndrome, so to ban gum from the point of view of being considered a culprit if you are caught simply chewing it would be a great shame.”

While residents of Oban are keen for the by-law to be brought into effect, some are concerned that the changes may be a step too far.

Critics feel that there is no need for a by-law and that all that needs to be done is to encourage local gum-chewers to be vigilant in how they dispose of their gum – by wrapping it up and putting it in a bin.