Ice-cream war heats up over parking block

Helen Smith with her ice cream van.
Helen Smith with her ice cream van.
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A street trader says she will ask council bosses to give her a new site, claiming that residents are now intentionally blocking her pitch with cars.

Helen Smith, who won an appeal to sell ice cream in Alnmouth after a protracted battle, says she has been forced to shoehorn her van into the spot at Riverside Road because of vehicles restricting access.

Riverside Road, Alnmouth' The red car on the left has allegedly been parked there since September 7.

Riverside Road, Alnmouth' The red car on the left has allegedly been parked there since September 7.

The location was agreed by Northumberland County Council despite strong objections by residents and the parish council on road safety grounds.

Her licence had initially been rejected, effectively halting her business for 163 days.

That was overturned on September 7, but Mrs Smith, from Shilbottle, says one car has been parked at the spot ever since.

“On the site visit I did with the council’s highways and licencing officers, they said that there were two other suitable places for me to trade,” she said.

“One was on Northumberland Street and the other was further down Riverside Road.

“The preferred site was on the corner, where I have always traded from. Since winning my appeal, a car which I know belongs to one of the objectors has been parked on the preferred spot 24/7.

“If they are going to continue to block the preferred location, I will be going back to the council to ask for the other two sites to be made available.”

Mrs Smith attended an open meeting of the parish council last Monday evening, after seeing a copy of the village newsletter which stated that street trading would be up for discussion. However, chairman Bill Bourne said there was no formal agenda and declined to discuss the issue until the council had debated it first.

Mrs Smith said: “I wouldn’t have turned up if I didn’t think I’d be able to discuss what has been happening. Mr Bourne refused to speak to us.”

Residents at the meeting said they didn’t believe the council had made the right decision in allowing the van to trade from Riverside Road.

Householder Joan Davidson said: “The whole traffic situation on our street is a problem and I think the council made a bad decision. Last Sunday, none of us can get out or in.”

Bob Whittaker said: “No one has a right to claim those parking spaces – it’s first-come, first-served.”

Wife Marrisse added: “This is a dangerous place to park an ice-cream van and there’s going to be a crash sooner or later.

“The traffic has definitely got worse over the years.”