CLEANSING officers at Kirklees Council say investing in chewing gum removal machines would be an expensive and inefficient use of taxpayers' money.

But they hope chewers will continue to use the gum boards in Huddersfield town centre.

A report on ways of tackling chewing gum litter on the streets will be presented by officials to the Huddersfield Area Committee's Town Centre Sub-Group tonight.

An earlier meeting of councillors had asked for the report after hearing about the mess left on streets by discarded chewing gum.

The cleansing department has looked into many options for solving the problem.

A year ago, GumTarget boards were put up in New Street and King Street, in conjunction with environmental company Meteora.

Anyone caught putting gum on the ground instead of on the boards or in bins can be fined £50.

While the boards have reduced gum litter in certain areas, a trial run of chewing gum removal machines was not so successful.

The machines blast gum off the pavement with high-pressure water jets.

Cleansing spokesman Roger Wilson said: "We did a trial and discovered they are extremely expensive. A small machine costs about £22,000 and the street did not stay clean.

"As soon as you clear it up, things start to deteriorate," he added.

"Who knows how many machines we would need to cover the town centre and when would we do it? You have to cordon off the area.

"Are you going to spend a lot of money on a machine to clear up chewing gum, to the detriment of some other worthy cause?"

Mr Wilson said the cleansing department has no plans for tackling gum litter.

However, Kirklees has joined councils across the UK in a campaign to get a tax on chewing gum, to meet the country's £150m annual cost of clearing it up.

A summit was held in London in February, with representatives from councils in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

They want a tax of 1p on every packet of gum and want makers to develop bio-degradable chewing gums.

Makers Wrigleys are in talks with the councils, but says it has spent £5m unsuccessfully trying to develop a bio-degradable gum.

Mr Wilson said: "Wrigleys are taking it seriously and are trying to co-operate.

"We are hoping the Environmental Campaigns charity or the Local Government Association will take up the issue for us."

UK gum sales are worth an estimated £258m a year.