Traders give Lewes ice-cream seller a frosty reception

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A chill has fallen over Lewes over fears a popular ice cream seller could be forced out of town.

Victoria McMullen, 35, from Barcombe runs Vintage Scoops, a smart retro ice cream van from which she sells unusual ice creams and sorbets. Her theme is ‘fifties complete with home-made bunting, Monroe-style frocks and glam hairdos.

The van parks in the precinct at the head of Cliffe High Street. But she fears she will soon be frozen out after some local traders complained their businesses are being affected.

Victoria told the Express: “I was granted a year’s trading licence by Lewes District council last summer and I was not aware of any problems. This year a lady at the council told me they are not going to renew my licence from this August.”

She went on: “I am local and I’ve had fantastic feedback. I know the council has a ruling you can’t set up a competitive business within 100 metres of another trader but why did they let me come here in the first place? I’m not a threat but I have a good nature and believe in sharing the love. I don’t want to be somewhere I am not wanted.”

Celia Schultz who runs Poppy’s (which also sells ice-cream) in the nearby Riverside explained: “This is a bit of a hornet’s nest and started to get nasty. I have not complained but I do pay rent, rates and electrity all year for my business including the quiet months. In summer it’s ice cream that keeps me going. The council’s licensing officer came into my shop and asked ‘are you losing business?’ She explained people were not supposed to open up near other firms. “I’ve been here eight years and we’ve been very successful - I would never make any complaint like this but clearly someone has and the council has taken note.”

Catherine Benjamin from The Olive Branch Catering agrees. She said: “I make my own ice cream from free range eggs and cream. When Vintage Scoops turned up my sales fell from £200 a day to £30. Tourists are 80 per cent of my market. The Environmental Health team did tell me the Scoops licence was ‘under review.’ I’m re-starting ice cream sales from August.”

A spokeswoman for Lewes District council said: “Lewes District Council can confirm it will not be renewing the annual consent for Vintage Scoops. “We have explained to them that our street trading policy seeks to protect existing businesses that are within 100 metres of their ice-cream van. We have been made aware by local businesses who also sell ice-cream that it is affecting their trade and that’s why we have taken the decision.”

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