THE first litter fine for chewing gum has been issued in Carmarthenshire.

Council environmental enforcement officers have issued a fixed penalty notice for £75 to a woman at McDonald’s in Cross Hands.

Officers were on duty in the area and saw the woman take the chewing gum from her mouth and throw it onto the ground.

They continued to observe her to give her a chance to pick it up; however, she then lit up a cigarette and after finishing it, threw that onto the ground as well.

Failure to pay the fine could lead to prosecution in the magistrates court and a maximum fine of up to £2,500.

Cllr Jim Jones, executive board member for environmental and public protection, said: “This is the first fine that we have issued specifically for chewing-gum litter. Our enforcement officers have to carry out patrols across the county and it can be very difficult to catch people in the act.

“Obviously we don’t want to fine people; we would prefer they don’t drop litter in the first place, but if they fail to take notice then we have no choice.”

The council has taken part in a national chewing gum litter campaign, funded by the Chewing Gum Action Group, for the past three years. The aim is to encourage people to put their gum in the bin and remind them that dropping litter is an offence.

Council chiefs say that not only is chewing-gum litter an eyesore but it can stick to people’s clothes and shoes and it is difficult and costly to clean up.

In fact, it costs the council about £30,000 a year to remove chewing gum from our streets.