It is time we all got to grips with our stickiest problem

The machine to remove chewing gum cost a whopping £120,000
The machine to remove chewing gum cost a whopping £120,000

Councillor Mary Mears made the wise decision to purchase a machine to clean up chewing gum.

Long ago, in normal times, before the current bunch of incumbents occupied the town hall, Councillor Mary Mears, the then-leader of the council, made the very wise decision to purchase a machine to cleanse our filthy streets of chewing gum.

Cllr Mears attended three demonstrations at separate sites. With the assurance of officers that one of these machines would make a big difference to the cleanliness of our city, she authorised the purchase. The price was a whopping £120,000 and the decision was not taken lightly.

But with the disgusting state of our streets in the forefront of their minds, a solution had to be found and, as far as the officers and councillors of the day were concerned, this machine would go some way towards solving the problem.

So where is this machine? What happened to it - as surely it couldn't just disappear, could it?

There are indeed plenty of things the average city resident would like to see disappear associated with this regime, but I doubt the chewing gum removal machine is anywhere on that list.

I have been asking about the whereabouts of this very valuable machine, which apparently slipped from public view when the last administration was voted out. I don't know about you, but I don't remember anyone ever suggesting that the chewing gum machine should be voted out as well.

Apparently, the reason this very expensive piece of equipment is not working away cleaning our streets is because it is broken and nobody knows how to fix it.

Oh really? Well, I for one don't buy that nonsense. No company sells a machine like that without a full back-up service, so why have we not consulted with them? Perhaps Councillor Kitcat would like to tell us, in his next "aren't we great?" column, exactly what's happened to it.

In case anyone hasn't noticed, our streets are filthier than ever. The chewing gum curse has got even worse as the student population increases - and we could well do with a couple of these machines working full-time now around our city centre and particularly down around City College.

Also, it wouldn't be a bad idea for schools and colleges to include some common-sense instructions about how to dispose of chewing gum in their curriculum. Perhaps an explanation of what the ingredients actually are, as well as the possible side-effects, might reduce the amount we see stuck to our pavements.

There can be little doubt that most of our residents would like to see our city centre cleaned up. Our council need to lead the way on this and then perhaps private enterprise would follow suit. Councillors should be encouraged to walk around the city with groups of business ratepayers and professional cleaning advisers to discuss the very simple ways we can improve the cleanliness of our streets.

It is obvious to anyone - whether they be resident or visitor - that our city centre streets need properly cleansing on a regular basis. The only people who don't seem to understand are the very group that have been elected to look after our city.

Let's hope, whichever group of smiling wafflers are voted in next May, they actually have enough sense to tackle this very simple problem.

It really is not rocket science. Let's stick it to them!