TENS of thousands of pounds are being handed to two councils in Gwent to clear chewing gum off pavements – and to encourage people to stop dropping it.

Newport and Blaenau Gwent councils are both being given £20,000 from the UK Government’s Chewing Gum Taskforce Grant Scheme as part of a nationwide effort to remove dropped gum from high streets.

Cleaning up dropped gum costs the UK taxpayer an estimated £7 million every year.

Wales’ deputy climate change minister Lee Waters said: “The need to get rid of chewing gum immediately after use means it is an item commonly disposed of irresponsibly, with gum staining present on more than two thirds of Wales’ streets.

“Cleaning streets of gum is expensive and labour-intensive. I’m really pleased this new fund has been established to support councils across Wales and encourage people to think about the issues caused by chewing gum litter.”

Elsewhere in Wales, Denbighshire and Swansea councils have also each been given £20,000, while Flintshire County Council has been handed £16,000.

The Chewing Gum Taskforce Grant Scheme brings together governments across the UK and major chewing gum producers including Mars Wrigley, GlaxoSmithKline and Perfetti Van Melle, and is administered by Keep Britain Tidy.

Chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy Allison Ogden-Newton said: “This is an exciting new opportunity for councils to tackle the ongoing problem of gum pollution.

“The grants will allow councils to clean up historic gum litter staining in our towns and cities, as well as taking action to prevent people littering in the first place.”

Previous pilots have reportedly reduced gum littering by up to 64 per cent.

Littering is a criminal offence and Welsh local authorities can issue penalties of up to £150, rising up to £2,500 if convicted in court.