Some local councils in London, United Kingdom, are banning ice cream vans and residents are worried it is the beginning of the end for an age-long tradition.
But the councils explain that the ban is part of their crack down on toxic air pollution.
A spokesman for Camden council, said: “Idling ice cream vans pump out harmful chemicals like NO2 [nitrogen dioxide] and black carbon which is why the council is introducing measures to reduce and remove this traffic around schools and other public spaces.”
According to health experts, the substances released by the vans can stunt the growth of children’s lungs and trigger asthma attacks.
The worry is as a result of the fact that the vans need to keep their engines running even while stationary in order to power on-board freezers and a whippy machine.
London’s Evening Standard reports that Camden council is already installing “no ice cream trading” signs in 40 streets and increasing enforcement officer patrols while issuing fines to sellers who break the rules. Westminster council will also be enforcing trading laws to prevent ice cream sellers operating in some of its streets near schools.
Street ice cream trading tradition has been traced back to Swiss entrepreneur Carlo Gatti who was the first to sell ice cream from a stand on the street in London in the 1850s.
Wall’s ice cream was first sold from tricycles in London in 1922.
Ice cream lovers have expressed worry that the new laws may finally phase out the vans especially after the Ice Cream Alliance estimated that the number of ice cream vans in the UK have declined to less than 2,500. The decline may be partly due to the emergence of frozen yoghurt shops which health-conscious Londoners seem to favour.
A 45-year-old mother of two, Saskia Regtering, told Evening Standard that she hopes the vans will not disappear on account of the regulations.
She said: “At the end of the day we have to think about the future of the planet. It’s good to limit where the vans can park — why not make them operate where they have access to electricity.
“It is a shame when traditions die out and the whole city is based on history and tradition. Hopefully, the vans will not disappear as a result.”
To tackle these worries, many councils are looking at installing electricity power points in parks and markets to allow sellers to operate without their engines running.
According to a Camden council spokesman for Camden council, “the development of five areas where the borough will experiment with ice cream trading permitted so long as [vans] operate with their engines switched off” will commence soon.
In Westminster the vans are already banned from pitching up in areas owned and operated by The Royal Parks. Instead they are given spaces with access to mains electricity rather than keeping their engines switched on. One van is regularly parked outside the Royal Albert Hall, across the road from Hyde Park.