British Summer Time is almost upon us, the nights are lighter, Easter is on its way – it must be time to listen out for the charming chime signaling the re-emergence of your local ice cream van after the winter break.
However, since the heyday of the ice cream van in the 1970s the number of vans on Britain’s roads has fallen dramatically.
The ice cream van in serious decline
Last year the BBC estimated the number fell from from 25,000 in 1970 to just 5,000 in 2017 – with only 500 vans now driving from street to street in the UK. The rest park up and trade at public events.
Ice cream sellers say they have been blighted by the cost of street trading licences – up to £3,000 in some cases – the introduction of emission zones, congestion charges, one way systems, cheap supermarket alternatives for the domestic freezer and even the advent of double glazing.
In an attempt to freeze the decline, the Ice Cream Alliance launched a campaign to encourage people to listen out for the ice cream van and to “stop me and buy one”.
The ice cream van “part of British culture”
Zelica Carr from the Ice Cream Alliance said:“The ice cream van has been a great part of British culture for decades and for many people the sound of the chimes brings back joyous childhood memories that a lovely treat is on the way!
“Sadly, in recent years the number of ice cream vans has been in decline with many being strangled by red tape.
“All these businesses are trying to do is to supply the public with their favourite affordable treat but they have to contend with rules and regulations on when they can play their chimes, how long they can play them, where they can pitch their vans and how long they can stay there.
“I’m sure we can demonstrate the huge support that exists for ice cream sellers among the public and hopefully persuade the powers that be to add their support to preserving this great British institution.”
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