Andrew Cuneo, of Cuneo’s Ice Cream, said he had not been consulted on Sheffield Council plans to stop giving permission to vans that need to keep engines running for machines and freezers to work.
Councillor Alison Teal, executive member for parks, announced the policy change on Twitter in reply to someone raising concerns about pollution.
She said: “Following complaints from parents of young children, the council is working towards changing current policy on vendor permits within parks. Running diesel engines beside toddler playgrounds is a health hazard, there are safer alternatives.”
Mr Cuneo said his family started selling ice cream in the 1860s and this would put them out of business, taking away his and future generations’ livelihoods, and could put hundreds of others associated with the ice cream trade out of work.
He said: “Why would they want to pick on the few ice cream vans in Sheffield?
“When every bus, ambulance, fire engine, taxi, police car and everybody else has to drive electric vehicles then we will.
“They are picking on a small established trade and it’s just not acceptable.
“We all know that everything has got to be phased out regarding fossil fuels but it can’t happen overnight, it’s going to take years and years.
“They think we are an easy target.”
He said all of their vans are Euro 6, the standard for clean non electric vehicles.
Mr Cuneo added: “They just want everybody to go back to a horse and cart.
“Who’s going to fund it? If the van is stationary they can be adapted to run off mains electric but there is a massive financial cost to convert these vans and who is going to pay to put the electricity down? If they are so concerned why don’t they put electric down for us?”
The Liberal Democrats also criticised the move.
Coun Barbara Masters said: “This sudden change in policy from the Green/Labour coalition hits an industry already hurting from the pandemic.
“We all want to see greener vehicles going forward but banning the current ice-cream vans from our parks and community spaces without giving the vendors a chance to adapt is just wrong. It would destroy small businesses and make our parks less fun to be in.
“The ice-cream vendors received no income during lockdown and had a shorter summer season this year due to Covid-19; but have had to pay rent to the parks department throughout this time as well as covering other overheads.
“What message does this give to the small business community trying to work with the council?”
Sheffield Council confirmed a policy decision had not yet been taken but it was looking at feasibility of options to improve environmental impact and anything considered will be done in consultation with vendors.
Coun Teal is also keen explore whether the highways department has authority to do similar on the land it oversees.
Other local authorities such as Camden and Westminster councils have similar rules already in place.