Councillor Alison Teal, executive member for parks, announced plans for the change of policy on social media in reply to someone raising concerns about air pollution from ice cream vans and said she is keen to explore whether highways could take similar action.
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.”
Coun Teal said any changes could only be made when a particular vendor reapplied for permission to enter a park to sell ice cream, so the change would likely be introduced from next spring.
Sheffield Council faced backlash from vendors and the Liberal Democrats who said banning vans that need to keep the engine running for ice cream machines and freezers to work would put many out of business.
Andrew Cuneo, of Cuneo’s Ice Cream, said his family started selling ice cream in the 1860s and this would take away his and future generations’ livelihoods, and could put hundreds of others associated with the ice cream 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.
“They think we are an easy target.”
He said all of their vans are already Euro 6, the gold standard for clean non electric vehicles and that converting to an all electric van would be too expensive.
Liberal Democrat councillor Barbara Masters, who asked several questions on the proposals at a full council meeting today, said: “This sudden change in policy from the Green/Labour coalition hits an industry already hurting from the pandemic …
“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 the feasibility of options to improve environmental impact and anything considered would be done in consultation with vendors.
In reply to one of Coun Master’s questions at full council, Coun Teal said the council was looking at how it would work with operators to transition towards more clean air options over the next few years.
Coun Teal said: “We will do nothing without taking the views of ice cream vendors seriously. We will work with them. We are taking our responsibilities seriously not dodging them.”