Ice cream vendors left out for trading in Seaham without consent

An ice cream van owner and his employee have been ordered to pay more than £1,000 after they were repeatedly caught trading without a permit in a seaside town in County Durham.

Durham County Council’s licensing team received several complaints about ice cream vans belonging to Major Singh, of North Field Drive, Newcastle, between March and June 2021.

Magistrates in Peterlee heard how the first complaint related to an ice cream van parked outside a school in Seaham in March last year. Checks revealed the vehicle belonged to Mr Singh, 46, who did not hold a valid street trading license, prompting the council’s licensing team to issue a warning letter.

The following month the council received a complaint about unlicensed street trading taking place in the Vane Tempest car park in Seaham. Permit enforcement officers attended the scene and advised the driver of the ice cream van, Gurvinda Singh, that the vehicle did not have a valid consent to trade.

The court heard Gurvinda Singh, 33, of Mimosa Place, Newcastle, was an employee of Major Singh at the time.

Further complaints were received in May following an incident involving ice cream vans parked in the Vane Tempest parking lot. On this occasion, the council was able to obtain body-worn footage of the incident from Durham Constabulary to determine whether the traders involved held valid licences.

Major Singh was contacted by telephone and said he had traded from this location for 11 years. However, he was told he had rolling consent, rather than fixed consent, meaning vehicles are only allowed to stay for 15 minutes before continuing. In June, permit enforcement officers again contacted Major Singh by telephone and informed him that the applications he had submitted for his two vehicles were not complete and could not be processed.

He was warned that enforcement action would be taken if the vehicles were caught trading without consent.

Magistrates heard that on June 6, an ice cream van driven by Gurvinda Singh and belonging to Major Singh was seen by licensing enforcement officers at the Vane Tempest car park for 53 minutes. He was then seen at the Seaham Hall beach car park for 40 minutes.

Officers cautioned Gurvinda Singh, who said he was just the driver. He then received an infraction letter, following further complaints from members of the public about an ice cream van being driven by a person matching his description on June 9, 14 and 15.

Gurvinda Singh pleaded guilty to trading on a street where a license or consent is required without permission, saying he trusted his employer and failed to carry out further checks. He was ordered to pay costs and a fine totaling £325.

Major Singh’s street trading consent was revoked on June 11. He refused requests to attend interviews and pleaded guilty to trading on a street where a license or consent is required without permission. Major Singh was ordered to pay costs and a fine totaling £679.

Owen Cleugh, public protection officer at Durham County Council, said: “Street trading licenses are extremely important and we will take action against those who repeatedly ignore our requests to comply with the legislation. We do this to protect customers and businesses that operate legitimately.

“Legal proceedings are always a last resort but, in these cases, the advice and warnings we have given many times in person, over the phone and by mail have been ignored. I hope this will serve as a warning that we take breaches of licensing law seriously.

For more information on street trading permits and licenses in County Durham visit www.durham.gov.uk/Streettrading

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