London: Red-faced over a `dramatic` increase in spitting `paan` in public places, the London borough of Brent with a large population of Indian origin has announced a fine and a campaign to stop people from doing so. Wembley, which is a major area of the borough of Brent, is replete with streets stained by `paan` spittle, particularly along High Road and Ealing Road.
The Brent council spends 20,000 pounds every year to clean the stains left behind by consumers of `paan`.
Local councillor Gavin Sneddon said, "Paan staining is unsightly and contributes to a negative image that Wembley is dirty and rundown, which can lead to increased levels of crime and anti-social behaviour. By working together with the police
and the local community we are confident that people will think twice before spitting on our streets."
The council has declared that spitting `paan` is illegal and anyone caught doing so will be fined 80 pounds for criminal damage.
The problem has been recognised as a major issue of concern for residents and visitors to Wembley. Wembley`s streets are cleaned every day, but when
`paan` spittle dries up, council sources say it is `very difficult` to remove from the pavements.
It requires a specialist cleaning team to use high pressure washing and even this only removes up to 90 per cent of the tougher stains.
Council official say the last few years the amount of `paan` spewed on the streets of Wembley has increased `dramatically`.
Many people confuse the stains with dried blood and this contributes to an increased fear of crime, they say. The `dramatic` increase in `paan` spitting on the
streets of Wembley is mainly due to new immigrants from India and other parts of south Asia where `paan` consumption (and spewing) is culturally accepted.
Several shopkeepers of Indian origin in the borough have also complained about `paan` stains on their premises after business hours.
The council`s campaign poster is titled, `It`s Nasty Man: Don`t Spit Paan`.
Recently, more than 500 people, including community leaders, police officers, health experts and business owners attended a conference in Wembley to discuss the growing problem.
There are similar reports of councils struggling to deal with `paan` spittle in towns with large populations with origins in the Indian sun-continent, such as Leicester, Birmingham and Bradford.