'Ice cream wars' forecast in Milton Keynes
Ice cream wars will break out in Milton Keynes if food traders are banned from selling their treats outside schools.
That’s the view of trader Elaine Hall who has been selling ice creams for 16 years and applied to Milton Keynes Council for consent to trade across the borough, including outside Loughton School.
“There are ice cream wars out there,” Elaine Hall told a meeting of the Regulatory Sub-Committee on Friday (March 8).
She forecast that the battle for lucrative pitches could increase as traders who are banned from outside schools have to find work elsewhere. “There are going to be more street wars with ice cream vans.”
The trader said that a “small ice cream cone is 100 calories, and includes calcium which is good for children.
“If the children don’t have an ice cream, the children will pester their parents for a McDonald’s. A milk shake has 600 calories. To me, an ice cream is far better for them,” she said.
She also said that her one ice cream van didn’t make parking worse in the area and she has never had any trouble with the school or the parents. The children, aged 7 to 11 also do not have their own money, making the choice a parental one.
Local councillor Zoe Nolan, who is also the cabinet member responsible for children and families, spoke at the sub-committee in opposition to the application. She said she liked ice cream, adding “we are not the ice cream police.”
But she added there are issues of road safety and public health, which suffers from traffic congestion.
“One in five children are obese when they start school and one in three are obese when they leave school. It is a problem for children going into adulthood. ”
And she added that with full Regulatory Committee considering imposing a ban on food trading within 250 metres of schools on Wednesday, March 13, to give consent to one van would cause confusion.
Council official Ed Fisher said the applicant passed all regulatory checks in respect of criminal record, food safety registration, disclosure, MOT, insurance, and vehicle appearance. The only issue is about one specific trading location on their usual round.
The committee decided to give consent to Elaine Hall to trade from her usual sites across the borough, but not within 250 metres of schools during normal school days.
If another committee meeting on Wednesday agrees to the ban, all food traders, not just ice cream vans, will be banned from trading within 250metres of schools during normal school days.
Elaine Hall said she was angered by the decision and predicted: “There will be a lot of upset children.”