AM calls for 5p chewing gum tax

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cleaning up gumGareth Fuller/PA Archive/Press Association Images

An Assembly Member has called for a 5p tax on chewing gum to help pay for the cost of cleaning up litter.

Conservative AM Darren Millar said chewing gum was a blight on streets in Wales and costs councils thousands of pounds to remove.

The father-of-two's calls come less than 12 months after the ministers in Cardiff Bay introduced a minimum 5p charge on single use carrier bags. Proceeds from that levy go towards good causes benefiting the environment.

Mr Millar said: "Chewing gum litter is a blight on our streets which is costing councils thousands to remove.

"The introduction of a small levy on a packet of chewing gum can help to tackle this problem and change the behaviour of those who choose to spit their gum on to our streets. I very much hope assembly members from all parties will allow this proposal to move forward to more detailed scrutiny later in the year."

Mr Millar's proposal was chosen in a ballot of AMs - which is the first step for a backbench politician to introduce legislation. Politicians in the Senedd would have to vote in favour of the plan for it to be turned into a Bill - and then it would go through four stages before it could be turned into a law.

Clwyd West AM Millar admitted he had more work to do on how the levy would operate, but suggested proceeds could go towards publicity campaigns encouraging people to throw gum away responsibly as well as helping Wales' 22 local authorities to clean up discarded chewing gum from the streets.

Over the years, several different approaches have been tried to try and combat the issue - such as in Swansea where people were encouraged to place their used gum on small posters along popular nightlife spot Wind Street. But the sticky problem has not appeared to have gone away, and costs the taxpayer an estimated £1 million a year to clean up.

Environment group Keep Wales Tidy said changing people's attitudes was the best way of bringing about change.

A spokesman said: "Chewing gum litter is a big problem in Wales. The cost of removing it from our streets can be very expensive, it looks unsightly and has a negative impact on the environment so Keep Wales Tidy is pleased that the National Assembly is discussing it."

© 2012 Press Association

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