ICE cream van operators who have traded on Barnsley’s streets for generations say their livelihoods have been plunged into doubt - after the council announced ‘nonsensical’ plans to ban them from selling near schools.

Changes to so-called street trading rules - which sellers claim they were unaware of until the Chronicle revealed the plans in February - are set to come into force.

It will see a 200-metre no-go zone implemented around the town’s schools - four times more than the current 50-metre requirement.

Ruling cabinet members will discuss the policy next month, with a decision date already earmarked for June 11, the Chronicle can reveal.

Operators such as Les and Sarah Green, Sue Cairns and Pat Waltham - who have collectively clocked up more than a century’s service - have urged council bosses to re-think the plans having calculated that their incomes will be cut in half.

‘Council bureaucracy’ and the local authority’s ambition to reduce childhood obesity and vehicle emissions were blamed for the forthcoming changes.

Sue, who runs Sue’s Ices around Darfield and Thurnscoe, blasted the council’s handling of the situation.

“You’d think that we would have been consulted as it will have a terrible impact on us but the first I heard of it was in the Chronicle,” she said.

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“If I wouldn’t have read it, I wouldn’t have known - that’s how bad the council’s ‘consultation process’ has been and I’ve been in tears as it really does threaten a livelihood that I love.

“I’ve been trading for nine years and I started because it’s something I’d always wanted to do - you’re an integral part of the community and you see youngsters grow up, talk to their parents and make friends as a result.

“We’ve fought against it ever since because if these new rules come in, it’ll make it impossible for us - it’s just an unworkable plan and it doesn’t make sense.

“Basically, the council wanted to put a 400-metre no-stop zone an hour before the start of the school day and an hour after kids leave, but we’ve managed to get that down to 200 metres.

“However, that will still severely impact us, so we’re pleading with the council to see sense and reduce that to 100 metres which would still double the current limit.

“I live in Shafton and if I traded there, I couldn’t go near the primary school on High Street to sell an ice cream or a lolly, yet there are several shops which are able to.”

Les, whose firm Les’s Ices started in 1971 - following in his father’s footsteps - fears his beloved industry is being unfairly targeted and urged the council to ditch the proposal.

There are just 16 ice cream vans in Barnsley in 2024 - a far cry from when he started selling.

“It’s a job that I love - I’ve done it all my life and I even started on an adapted bicycle selling ice creams around Grimethorpe when I was at school,” he told the Chronicle.

“So I’ve traded for decades in Barnsley and currently cover Wombwell, but I didn’t have a single clue about what was being proposed until Sue got in touch - we were completely blind to it.

“I think it’ll halve incomes but maybe even more shocking than that is the fact there’s been no consultation with us - when it’s your job, you’d think you’d be the first to know.

“If pubs were all told to close their doors at 10pm, landlords would have been told so it feels very unfair.

“It’ll mean we can’t trade and it’ll become extremely hard to keep going - many simply won’t.”

The council claim the changes are ‘necessary’ and said research revealed parents want to make healthier choices for the children.

Anna Hartley, executive director for public health and communities, said: "The draft policy also includes an exclusion zone of 200 metres and a 20-minute wait time to attract customers for ice cream vendors around schools during the school day, which is in place as part of our efforts to improve children’s health by reducing obesity.

"The exclusion and wait are based upon industry best practice and benchmarked against other local authorities - as a comparison Sheffield City Council have an 800-metre exclusion around schools in place unless consent has been given by the school.

"Research on a national level has indicated that parents want to be able to make healthier choices for their children.

“Positioning the vans further away from the school premises make this easier as the purchase of an ice cream becomes a choice rather than the parents being pressured to do so when picking their children up from school."