CHEWING gum will be blitzed on the streets of North Tyneside this month as part of an initiative by North Tyneside Council and its partners.

The crackdown started in North Shields on Tuesday with an initial clean up by national chewing gum removal specialists GumFighters.

Following this the council will hire the specialist equipment for a month to tackle gum on the streets and pavements of Whitley Bay and Wallsend.

If the pilot is successful it is hoped to introduce it long term across the borough.

Using the high-tech GumFighters equipment, chewing gum will be removed from pavements using a system of high temperature low-pressure steam mixed with an environmentally friendly cleaning agent.

This week, the team of specialists will tackle the main pedestrian concourse in Bedford Street and the approaches to the Central Library. Once they have blasted away the gum, the council's Clean Sweep team will be on hand to finish the job and leave the pavements looking spic and span.

Earlier in the day the GumFighters team visited a local school with a good record on working with the community on environmental issues - Norham Community Technology College in North Shields.

"The education of the public, adults as well as children, is an important part of the process," said Coun Frank Lott, the council's lead member for the environment.

"Gum is messy and unpleasant and looks awful. Yet it is the easiest thing in the world to put unwanted gum in a wrapper and into a bin."

Mr John Fleet, the town centre manager, said that one of his concerns is that our town centres should be clean, attractive places in which to shop and work.

"Discarded gum blights pavements all over the country. The council and North Tyneside Challenge have got together with the Beacon Centre and the North Shields Chamber of Trade to do something about it in North Tyneside. We hope this example of partnership working can be used in other parts of the borough."

Mr Mark Williams-Thomas, marketing manager of GumFighters, added: "We are pleased to be working in partnership with North Tyneside to help combat the problem of gum pollution and hope that people in the area will also help us by throwing their gum in bins and not on pavements."