A PROPOSED ban on old ice cream vans in Sheffield from this summer was frozen this week - as a study is launched into traffic fumes in the city.
The council was considering a ban on ice cream vans more than five years old, which it saw as a contribution to improving air quality.
Now, amid widespread opposition, with some vendors saying it could lead to the closure of businesses, the idea is being put on ice.
The situation is due to be reviewed while further research into traffic emission levels is carried out at several locations across the city.
The council has been under pressure for years to improve air quality in line with European guidelines. It is estimated that traffic fumes costs Sheffield £160m in dealing with the effects of asthma and other conditions, and up to 500 people die early because of it.
But plans to put ice cream vans in the firing line attracted immediate protests.
Rosita Hunt, of Sheffield’s second oldest ice cream firm, Granelli’s, said: “If a vehicle is roadworthy and up to required standard, I see no reason for an age restriction. This change will have a big impact. Replacing vehicles is not cheap and might send some firms to the wall.
Another ice cream seller, who asked not to be named, said: “There is a riot going off between ice cream companies and the council.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Hallam MP Nick Clegg said: “While I would support efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, this should be done in a sensible way that doesn’t wipe out small businesses at a stroke.”
Andrew Flower, who chairs the South Yorkshire branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the ban was “the most absurd and irrational decision to emanate from the Town Hall for some time”.
Ice cream vans were a piece of Britain’s heritage and would be lost forever, he said. “The fact that they have properly licensed and insured vehicles with valid MOTs gives no grounds for treating ice cream sellers any different from other vehicle owners.”
The response saw the council starting to go cool.
Coun Clive Skelton, deputy chairman of the licensing committee, said: “Emissions do need to be brought down, but implementation of rules to achieve this should be done more slowly.”
Meanwhile, the air quality survey, financed by the Government, will see testing at locations including Western Bank, Eyre Street, Prince of Wales Road, Attercliffe Centre, Asline Road and Broad Lane.
Cabinet member Coun Jack Scott said: “We know in theory the amount of harmful gases vehicles produce as told to us by manufacturers but we have never tested the levels throughout the city. The latest phase of our Low Emission Zone Feasibility Study will look to do this.
“Our overall aim is to make the air we breathe healthier, so we can continue to be an environmentally responsible city.”