A councillor has warned that “we could end up with Asian street food and goodness knows what else” if a licence to sell ice cream on Dartmouth Embankment is granted.
Suze Bond was seeking a pedlar’s licence from the police, who refused to grant it. Then, in March this year, armed with her new ice cream pedal bike, the Jolly Lolly, she set out to obtain permission to trade in Dartmouth.
Ms Bond, sought advice at the Guildhall and was told that since South Hams District Council owned the land on which she wished to trade, the Embankment, Coronation Park and Royal Avenue Gardens, she should contact them.
Ms Bond contacted SHDC, asking for permission to operate her fledgling business on Dartmouth waterfront. By now, although she had no licence, Ms Bond had insurance, a food hygiene certificate and was registered as a food business with environmental health at SHDC. Following numerous emails from Ms Bond to SHDC,Ms Bond was told the district council intended to refer the question of a licence back to the town council for its recommendation.
The town council advised SHDC it had concerns: that a licence for the Jolly Lolly would set a precedent; be ‘against’ traders who trade all year long; would create a moving obstruction on the embankment; that Royal Avenue Gardens was not a suitable site; about the level of public liability insurance and how licences of this sort would be policed.
Cllr Gina Coles said this week: “There are several reasons why this is not a good idea. It will set a precedent and we could end up with Asian street food and goodness knows what else being sold from vehicles on the Embankment or in Royal Avenue Gardens.
“But, my main objection is that we have enough ice cream sellers in town and they are paying very high rents and rates and other costs all year round and the council should be supporting them. It isn’t fair if someone can see the sun is shining, hop on a bike, and pedal around the town taking trade away from our permanent traders.”
A district council spokesman said: “We have communicated frequently with Ms Bond and Dartmouth Town Council over recent months to find a way to support this new business.
“We have taken into account the viewpoint of the town council who had concerns about traders causing obstructions during the busy summer months where the areas along the embankment and surrounding areas can be exceptionally congested with pedestrians. As such, we have been unable to support this application.
“However, we did suggest a number of other avenues that could be investigated to find a conclusion to Ms Bond’s trading endeavours. We understand that she is now trading in Dartmouth and Dittisham and we wish her well with her new venture.”
It was suggested to Ms Bond that she should consider trading from the highway and apply to Devon County Council for a pedlar’s licence.
But Ms Bonds said: “I had been to Torquay police station last year to apply for my pedlar’s certificate. This was my first port of call in getting my business set up. It appears that the police do not particularly like issuing these certificates. They cost £12.25 and allow you to trade for a year. You can see why they may not like to issue them.
“After lengthy and heated discussions at the police station, I was turned down a pedlar’s certificate, with the correct reason being that you do not need one if you sell food or drink. I wanted one as I thought it would give me more legal standing if ever I got challenged.
“I only actually needed to be registered as a food business, but I already had my food hygiene certificate and, after doing my homework, it made sense to have the public liability. After all, this was my new business venture and I wanted to do it properly.
“I have gained the right to trade on Dittisham Ham.
“As the June half-term was drawing near, I was keen to be allowed to trade in Dartmouth as well. For some reason, I asked permission from SHDC. Some good friends of mine have this quote on their wall: ‘If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission’. Because I was setting up a business, I wanted to do it properly and legally and not upset any businesses etc in Dartmouth. In hindsight, I wish I had just rocked up and started selling.
“So, at the moment, I am going to be trading from the kerbside, the road as such, as this is Devon highway, trading as a pedlar, I can only stop for a maximum of 20 minutes in one spot. I’m sure that many people are unaware of the Pedlars Act of 1871 but I am fully aware of how to use it.
“I am a Dartmothian, parent of three trying to help make ends meet, working in a town I love.”