Ice cream van owners in Northampton have forced a council u-turn over planned rent increases, which they claimed would put them out of business.
Earlier this year, Northampton Borough Council announced plans to increase the amount of rent charged for ice cream and burger van pitches across the town.
The move was met with immediate opposition from ice cream salesmen as their pitches at Abington Park would have been re-classed as ‘premium sites’, leading to large rent increases.
Speaking to the council’s licensing committee this week, Aldo Gallone, the director of Gallone’s Ice Cream said: “We’ve been trading at Abington Park for 80 years and we’re aware a rent increase is possibly due, but within moderation.
“The council is proposing a 600 per cent rise over three years, which is a bit extreme.”
He was backed by Joe Brindisi, from Marios Ice Cream, which also operates from Abington Park.
He said: “We wouldn’t be able to sustain the level of increase that’s proposed. We’d probably go out of business.”
Council officials argued a rent increase was needed to bring rates in Northampton in-line with other towns nearby. They also pointed out no increase had been made since 2003.
But the ice cream vendors argued any increase would have to be passed on to customers through higher ice cream prices.
That forced councillors to re-think the plans.
Councillor Gareth Eales (Lab, Spencer) said: “I think the increase is too steep.
“We’ve got to take into account the current economic climate and if we want to impose this, businesses will either fail or the cost will be passed onto the public, who are already struggling.”
The council committee voted to look at the proposed price rises again, a move which was welcomed by the ice cream firms.