Cold war continues after ice-cream-van appeal stalls

Helen Smith with her ice cream van.
Helen Smith with her ice cream van.

A vendor’s struggle to sell ice cream in a north Northumberland village continues after her appeal over a licence refusal was adjourned amid confusion.

In June this year, Helen Smith, of Shilbottle, was refused a street trading licence to station her ice cream van at a site on Riverside Road in Alnmouth over concerns about road safety and there already being adequate like provision.

Mrs Smith appealed the refusal but the hearing in front of the county council’s licensing and regulatory sub-committee, on Tuesday morning in Morpeth, had to be adjourned amid confusion over which areas in Alnmouth Mrs Smith had applied to trade in.

It means that her 139 days without being able to do business in Alnmouth rolls on.

While the initial refusal, and therefore the appeal, referred to a specific site on Riverside Road, Mrs Smith had since amended the application to include the whole of Riverside Road, and potentially other sites in the village.

During the hearing, Mrs Smith claimed that her initial application, which included other towns and villages including Alnwick, Shilbottle and Lesbury, was for Alnmouth in general and that the site on Riverside Road was a response to being asked where she normally parked her ice cream van.

But Philip Soderquest, the council’s public safety unit manager, said he understood that the application was solely dealing with the specific site on Riverside Road, and the amendments came in after the refusal letter had been issued.

Due to these concerns, the sub-committee adjourned the appeal while the amended application for other sites in Alnmouth, or the length of Riverside Road, are progressed.

Chairman Coun Alan Sharp said: “I feel that it’s important that we are open and transparent and hear all the evidence. I hope you understand that we made this decision in the interests of being fair to all parties.”

Mrs Smith had already been trading at the site for two-and-a-half years before March but the new county council street trading policy, which came into effect last August, meant she had to apply for a licence.