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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.

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 steam and biodegradable 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 in 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!”

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.

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