IT's been one of Glasgow's stickiest issues for years.

But now one senior councillor has come up with a solution to the city's chewing gum problem – ban it.

Paul Carey, a Labour member, is fed up of stepping on discarded gum in the streets – and watching public money wasted on clearing it up.

Mr Carey wants Glasgow to follow Singapore with a wholesale gum prohibition.

He said today: "I have asked the council to look at the possibility of completely banning chewing gum

"We would not be the first city to do this."

Mr Carey's call reflects long-standing frustration from city fathers with the sheer volume of gum they have to scrape off city pavements.

However, insiders stress that his gum ban plan is unlikely to get far – even if the council could impose such a prohibition, it would struggle to enforce it.

Singapore banned gum back in the 1980s after authorities complained of spending a fortune cleaning it up.

Now, under pressure from the United States, Singapore has slightly relaxed its rules: you can chew gum for dental health or to help yourself quit smoking.

Singapore, as an island, finds it relatively easy to keep stocks of commercial chewing gum out.

Some consumers travel to neighbouring Malaysia to buy their favourite treat.

But the ban, in the usually famously law-abiding island, has been widely respected.

Glasgow, of course, is not an island and not all of Mr Carey's council colleagues are convinced they could enforce a ban like Singapore's, never mind find a way to introduce it.

"There is nothing wrong with chewing gum until you spit it out on the pavement," said one.

"Why stop people doing something relatively harmless?"

Mr Carey is understood to be trying to raise awareness of the issue, perhaps in the hope of winning nationwide backing for a tax on gum.

He said: "I have asked the council to look at the possibility of completely banning chewing gum in the city or, if this is not possible, then to lobby the Government to put a tax on chewing gum – the proceeds of which could go towards the clean-up."

The Welsh assembly last year rejected plans from a Conservative Assembly Member to impose a 5p levy on every pack of gum.

It is not clear how much Glasgow spends clearing up gum – because the work is included in to its normal cleansing budget.

Other local authorities have estimated it costs 10p to remove each piece of gum.

But Glasgow, like most other councils, does not try to pick up every piece in the city. That would cost millions.

Instead, the council tries its best to clean places like Buchanan Street and Royal Exchange Square while focusing on fining those who commit the offence of spitting gum on the street.

Jim Coleman, the councillor responsible for cleansing, said: "Spitting out gum in the street is absolutely indefensible.

"You have had it in your mouth for 20 minutes – where is the urgency to get rid of it before you reach the next litter bin?"

A spokeswoman for Wrigley said the only effective and sustainable solution to littered gum is to encourage people to dispose of their used gum responsibly.

She added: "Tackling the problem of littered gum is something that we take extremely seriously. We promote good gum disposal messages via packaging and point of sale.

"We also fund a number of great campaigns that aim to encourage responsible litter disposal including our Bin it! programme and the annual Chewing Gum Action Group campaign, which last year saw a 68% reduction in littered gum in the Highland Council area.

"We believe these campaigns are a more effective way to address the issue rather than imposing bans or taxes that would unfairly punish regular chewers, the vast majority of whom dispose of their gum responsibly."