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Council's new gum-busting machine hits the streets

Lewes District Council now has its own Gladiator, ready to polish up pavements in town centres across the district.

Cllr Maples (centre), Chris Ketley (second from left) and Guy McQueen, the council’s regeneration project manager (second from right), with street cleansing staff.

Cllr Maples (centre), Chris Ketley (second from left) and Guy McQueen, the council’s regeneration project manager (second from right), with street cleansing staff.
The new purpose-built Gladiator machine has been jointly funded by the Chewing Gum Task Force, run by Keep Britain Tidy, and Newhaven's Wayfinding and Public Realm Improvement Scheme.

Developed in Switzerland, the machine uses low pressure steam and bio-degradable detergents to deep-clean pavement surfaces, lifting gum and grime and then vacuuming it up. The kit also includes a steam wand that can be used for removing graffiti on some surfaces.

The council's street cleansing teams will use it first in Newhaven town centre, preparing the way for murals to be installed as part of the Look Again Supergraphics Festival this June, before moving on to Lewes town centre and other parts of the district.

Councillor Wendy Maples, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Wellbeing, said: "Our teams have previously had to manually scrape gum away which is time consuming and not always effective.

"The test-runs with the Gladiator have been incredibly successful; once the gum and grime are gone, tired surfaces are renewed. This great bit of kit will go a long way to helping our teams smarten up our town centres.

"Of course, the most effective way of dealing with litter, whether it's gum or anything else, is not to have it in the first place. So our message on litter remains the same - throw it in the bin!"

Chris Ketley, Chair of the Re-imagining Newhaven Board, said: "This is one of the fundamental parts of the improvement to the High Street, being delivered by the Re-imagining Newhaven Board, as part of the circa £1 million Wayfinding and Public Realm Improvements project.

"With an influx of tourists and art lovers expected in June to celebrate the Look Again Supergraphics Festival, a series of 12 public art installations across the town, this is a timely project delivery to ensure Newhaven looks smarter!"

It is estimated the annual clean-up cost of littered chewing gum for councils in the UK is around £7 million and, according to Keep Britain Tidy, around 77% of England's streets and 99% of retail sites are stained with gum.

Published on March 14, 2024.

With photo of Cllr Maples (centre), Chris Ketley (second from left) and Guy McQueen, the council's regeneration project manager (second from right),with street cleansing staff. 

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