Village versus ice-cream van

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

An ice-cream van owner says she has been vindicated over road safety fears, after a ban on her trading in a seaside village was lifted.

Helen Smith took Northumberland County Council to appeal after it refused to grant her a street trading licence for a spot in Alnmouth, from which she had sold ice-creams for more than two years.

It followed serious concerns raised by Alnmouth Parish Council, which were backed by local traders and residents, who claimed that her van was a danger to road-users while parked up at Riverside Road.

County highways officers agreed and in June her licence application was rejected.

But at a hearing on Friday, the council withdrew its objection, leaving Mrs Smith free to resume trading after a ban which has cost her 163 days worth of work.

“It has taken forever and what I have been up against is unbelievable, but I am over the moon with the decision,” said Mrs Smith, a former Lesbury parish councillor who now lives in Shilbottle.

“The plan now is to pick up from when I was stopped, get back down there and begin trading again. I just want to be left in peace.”

But she added: “I don’t think it’s over yet for some people in the village. They might still try to make things difficult for me, but I will not give in that easily.”

Parish council chairman Bill Bourne said there was disappointment in the community at the outcome of the appeal.

“From the parish council’s point of view, we are disappointed that the highways department has said that it’s safe to trade when when we are currently in discussion with them and they have agreed to extend the double yellow lines.

“My surprise is that one person says it’s fine and another says we will go out and put double yellow lines there.

“It’s all part of a rather depressing picture of how rural Northumberland gets treated by the county council.

“It doesn’t give you much confidence that the county council really has on board the concerns of rural communities.

“I find that disappointing and disturbing to be honest.”