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Bradford BID launches five-year plan to tackle gum ‘menace’ and clean up city streets

The pilot clean-up project underway in Hustlergate, Bradford

A five-year rolling programme of street cleaning and chewing gum removal is to be launched in Bradford city centre this week.

The announcement by Bradford’s new Business Improvement District (BID) follows a successful test pilot on part of the Hustlergate area.
“The amount of chewing gum littering city centre streets is appalling and a constant source of complaint from those who live and work in as well as visit the city centre,” said BID manager Jonny Noble.

“Every city and town suffers from this menace, sadly, and it’s such horrible stuff that it is very difficult – and expensive – to clean off.
“It really drags down the appearance of shopping streets and that’s a big bone of contention with businesses trying to ply their trade as well as the shoppers and visitors who have to negotiate it.”

Almost half of the companies that took part in the feasibility study to establish the BID raised chewing gum as a major issue, which led to the BID listing it as one of the top priorities in its five-year business plan and one of the most urgent projects under the Clean pillar.

“It’s far too expensive a job to tackle the whole city centre in one go so we will, of course, be prioritising key areas that get some of the heaviest footfall and have the biggest impact on people’s perceptions of the city’s streets, especially key access points for new visitors who we want to ensure gain a great first impression,” said Mr Noble.

“It’s our intention to tackle the whole BID area through its five-year term, spreading the cost over a rolling programme to get the best value for money for levy-payers.”

All of the BID’s projects, which are derived from the business plan voted on by the firms and other organisations in the BID area, are additional to those delivered by Bradford Council which has an agreement to provide a specified minimum level and standard of service, including street cleaning.

The BID has deliberately sourced and employed a local company, AB Jetting Ltd, of Keighley, who carried out an overnight test clean on parts of Hustlergate a fortnight ago.
They employ a method of washing to first reveal the gum before attacking it with high-pressure steam hot-washing to remove it, as well as the stain it can leave behind, cleaning the flags at the same time.

“They use an environment-friendly cleaning agent to remove the algae and grime and, when it’s rinsed off, it leaves a pristine surface,” said Mr Noble. “It brings the Yorkshire stone flags back to almost new!

“It has an amazing impact on the streets – people don’t realise how dirty they are until they see the cleaned-up version.

“The test clean created a bit of a flurry on social media when people spotted the difference… I’m really pleased we can now answer their questions and reveal that it’s just the start of an ongoing strategic plan to deal with the negative impact of the modern plague of discarded chewing gum.”

English Heritage as it doesn’t cause any damage to stonework.

The big clean-up will get underway in Ivegate this week.

Chewing gum is classed as litter under the law and people seen dropping it can face the same penalties. The cleaning company says 3.5 billion pieces of gum are bought in the UK every year and 96 per cent of local authorities in the UK say they have a problem with it. The gum itself can take up to five years to degrade.