A new machine is being used to tackle chewing gum and even graffiti.

The “Gladiator” uses low-pressure steam and biodegradable detergents to deep-clean pavement surfaces, lifts gum and grime and then vacuums it up. 

It also has a steam wand that can be used for removing graffiti from some surfaces.

The gum-busting machine will first be used to tackle the streets of Newhaven town centre before moving to Lewes and other parts of Lewes district.

Councillor Wendy Maples, Lewes District Council's 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 Argus: The machine will first be used in Newhaven and Lewes, picturedThe machine will first be used in Newhaven and Lewes, pictured (Image: Andrew Gardner/The Argus)

“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.”

The 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.

The task force includes major chewing gum brands Mars Wrigley and Perfetti Van Melle.


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Chris Ketley, chairman of the Re-imagining Newhaven Board, said: “This is one of the fundamental parts of the improvement to the High Street, being delivered by the Re-imagining Newhaven Board, as part of the circa £1 million Wayfinding and Public Realm Improvements project.

“With an influx of tourists and art lovers expected in June to celebrate the Look Again Supergraphics Festival in Newhaven, a series of 12 public art installations across the town, this is a timely project delivery to ensure Newhaven looks smarter.”

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 per cent of England's streets and 99 per cent of retail sites are stained with gum.