The 'Plaza' area in Church Place. INLM2611-512gc
The 'Plaza' area in Church Place. INLM2611-512gc

CRAIGAVON councillors are chewing over a proposal to spend up to £24,000 removing gum from our streets.

Since the new Public Realm Works, estimated costs to deep clean the granite are proving costly.

It’s a specialised function as stains, oil, dirt and chewing gum must be removed without damaging the surface sealant and the work needs to be carried out by a competent cleaner, the Council’s Environmental Services Committee has been told.

The situation became unstuck at a recent Environmental Services Committee meeting.

And it transpires a budget of £24,000 has been set aside within the Development budget for the work, covering the Public Realm works in Lurgan and Portadown.

It is now the council’s responsibility to clean the granite as there was nothing in the tenders for the contractor to continue cleaning it.

Sinn Fein Councillor Noel McGeown has queried if any deep clean would damage the granite surface as any resealing would be a significant cost to the Council.

Ulster Unionist Councillor Kenneth Twyble agreed and also queried how often the surface would need to be cleaned. He was also concerned at the number of vehicles parking on the granite.

Asked by Ulster Unionist Ronnie Harkness how long each cleansing option would last before it would require repeating, the Director of Environmental Services said she didn’t know as it was a new situation for the council.

However, she said a ‘patch test’ would be carried out to allow officers to see what the outcome would be prior to cleaning the entire area.

Sinn Fein’s Tommy O’Connor queried how the contractors were appointed and if the Council had bought its own machinery to remove chewing gum.

The Director of Environmental Services advised that “the life span of the machine purchased to remove chewing gum had expired”.

Alderman Stephen Moutray voiced concern about spending a lot of money cleaning the pavements until it was decided how to maintain their upkeep.

The Operations Manager said a light clean would not involve pressure washers or abrasive equipment but this wouldn’t removed gum or ingrained dirt.

The committee have suggested the council staff give the plazas a light overall clean at a labour cost of £1,708. The matter is to be discussed again at the mid monthly meeting of the Council.

A spokesperson for Craigavon Borough Council said: “Currently daily street cleansing takes part in both town centres including the Public Realm works. This remains the case and the cleaning of Public Realm works will continue to the same high standard as all parts of the town centres. To date Council has made no decision to allocate extra cleaning provisions to those areas.”