Councillor Alison Teal, executive member for parks, announced the policy change on Twitter in reply to someone raising concerns about air pollution.
She said it would stop the council giving permission to “polluting vans” that need to keep the engine running for machines and freezers to work and hopes this could be extended to include highways.
“Running diesel engines beside toddler playgrounds is a health hazard, there are safer alternatives,” she added.
Lib Dem Coun Barbara Masters submitted several questions to Coun Teal for the next full council meeting on Wednesday, October 6.
She said: “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 questions she has asked are:
Will Coun Teal clarify her definition of ‘polluting vehicles’? Will she explain why this decision has been announced on a small social media site instead of through the council? When were ice cream vendors informed of this decision? Has an impact assessment been carried out? How many ice cream vendors will be affected by this decision? How many vendors will be forced out of business by this change in policy? What public consultation has taken place? What measure will be put in place in the parks by the council to help vendors make the transition to operate in a pollution free manner? If these are planned will these be in the locations that vendors wish to operate so that their businesses are viable? Does Coun Teal propose to put the same conditions on the many vendors and street events providers in city centre locations and beyond despite the lack of electric charging points in many places where events take place and how much advance notice does she intend to give them?
Andrew Cuneo, of Cuneo’s Ice Cream, said the change would put them out of business, taking away his and future generations’ livelihoods, and could put hundreds of others associated with the trade out of work.
He said: “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.”
He said all of their vans are Euro 6, the gold standard for clean non electric vehicles, and that vans can be adapted to run off mains electric but there was a massive financial cost to convert them.
Mr Cuneo added: “They just want everybody to go back to a horse and cart … If they are so concerned why don’t they put electric down for us?”
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.