Mayo County Council is forking out some €15,000 over the coming weeks to deal with the gooey mess that is gum litter on Ballina’s main thoroughfares.
Director of services in the Ballina Municipal District, Paul Benson, revealed the clean-up costs for the sticky problem at the launch of a new campaign to reduce gum litter in the north Mayo capital on Monday.
The gum clean-up is to be carried out on Pearse Street, Tolan Street, Tone Street, and O’Rahilly Street.
At the launch, spectators were bathed in sunshine and the scene on the tree-lined, cobbled, and litter free Pearse Street was a pretty picture.
The children of two local primary schools were a bright and cheerful mass of luminous yellow and orange in hi-viz vests as they clamoured to meet former Connacht Rugby star Gavin Duffy, who is lending his support to the campaign and performed the official launch.
However Mr Benson revealed the local authority is having to shell out €1,000 a day to keep the town’s streets and parks clean.
Annually Ballina is spending €360,000 to maintain the town’s litter free status.
“Gum accounts for a large part of that,” he told the assembled pupils of Scoil Íosa and St Oliver Plunkett’s NS. And he was not laying the blame on the children, asking them to become ambassadors of a sort in the anti-gum litter campaign.
“Your mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grannies, and grandas all chew gum. It’s important to bring the message home to them too,” he appealed.
The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness that dropping chewed gobs of gum on the ground is a form of littering and subject to a hefty €150 fine.
In former years the awareness campaign has succeeded in reducing gum litter by 33 per cent.
“The campaign brings together the general public with industry and local authorities to reduce litter and show pride in their towns by working together,” explained Carmel Murphy of Mayo County Council.
It encourages the public to do their part and dispose of their gum properly - wrapping it up in tissue or paper and putting it in the nearest bin.
Gum Litter Taskforce chairman Paul Kelly said the campaign results speak for themselves.
“There has been demonstrable proof that educating people about the responsible disposal of gum has a profound impact on attitudes and behaviour. We are committed to continuing to educate consumers to ensure that there is a culture which makes littering unacceptable.”
Mayo County Council is one of 28 local authorities nationwide launching a gum litter campaign this month.