Conservative Home

« Richmond Council to hold referendum on Heathrow third runway | Main | Despite Prescott's bluster his misuse of a Government credit card shows him unfit for office »

Banning ice cream vans is not the right solution for childhood obesity


In the 1970s, the thrill of excitement when the ice cream van jingled was part of the magic of childhood. Those jingles are heard less often now - though paradoxically children are generally much fatter.

In those days there were 25,000 vans on the road. There are now 5,000 and these are overwhelmingly static at seaside resorts - only 500 are mobile.

A recent report says that these vehicles face extinction. I'm sure the main explanation is that in the 1970s most of us didn't have fridge freezers and by the 1990s, most of us did. So I can't be too sentimental about it. Would one wish to disinvent the fridge freezer? Or the internet which allows us to keep the freezer crammed full of ice cream by clicking away for a supermarket delivery.

Ice cream vans should not be protected from market forces. However, it seems altogether unreasonable for nanny state interventions from local councils to be pushing even more of them out of business.

The Telegraph says:

"Councils have added to sellers' woes by creating exclusion zones, hiking the cost of a van operator's licence and limiting how long vans can sound their chimes. Harrow Council in North London has banned ice cream vans altogether due to concerns over child obesity while Peterborough City Council says they can only sound their chimes for a maximum of four seconds. It revoked a seller's licence for playing Teddy Bears' Picnic for longer than four seconds after complaints by residents."

Joe Delucci's co-founder Nigel Langstone said:

"It is sad because ice cream vans are a happy part of so many of our childhoods, the sound of Greensleeves synonymous with the after-school treat. It just wouldn't happen today, not least because parents simply don't allow their children out on the streets on their own because they are worried for their safety."

I'm sure Mr Langstone is on to something. The 20 seven year old's in the 1962 documentary "7 Up" used to walk to school on their own.


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.