An ice cream war is whipping up in Whitstable as rogue traders invade the town centre in a battle to cash in on weekend weather, it has emerged.
Claims were made this week that aggressive sellers are stepping up efforts to sell ice creams in the town, even willing to park illegally to attract trade.
The issue is set to be discussed at a Harbour Board meeting, with calls for the council to take action against unlicensed traders.
Businessman Steve Graham, who used to run the Sundae Sundae parlour in Harbour Street, says he counted seven vans as he walked along the seafront from the Hotel Continental to the Neptune recently.
Steve said: “They were just everywhere.
“I was walking around and I just couldn’t believe the amount of ice cream vans parked illegally, blocking cars.
“The problem is people who run them can be quite angry. Everyone is a bit scared of them.
“A few years ago I confronted a trader and had my locks damaged and was threatened in the street.
“All they are doing is taking the fine because it’s still the cheapest pitch and they are willing to take on all comers.
“It’s down to Canterbury City Council to have enforcement officers out taking action.”
Vans were spotted in the Beach Walk and Keams Yard car park, Whitstable Harbour and by the Neptune pub throughout the afternoon.
Mr Graham, who owns the parlour but rents it out to a tenant, says he will raise the issue with the council as it is unfair on licensed sellers.
He added: “I’m going to bring it up with my local councillor and I’ve heard it may be discussed at the next Harbour Board meeting.
“It’s unfair on other people selling ice cream in the town who pay rates and taxes.”
“The problem is people who run them can be quite angry. Everyone is a bit scared of them" - Steve Graham
City council spokesman Rob Davies said: “The issue of ice cream sellers at the harbour is a perennial summer problem.
“We have a concessionaire who pays for the exclusive right to sell ice cream to take away, but every summer, others turn up and resist all attempts to move them on.
“It is a very tough problem to crack, and we are also conscious that if we do succeed in removing them from the harbour, they are likely to just move elsewhere in the town.
“The only powers we have available to us at the moment are to issue parking tickets, which we are doing, but the problem persists.
“We are keeping a log of incidents and continue to look at options for tackling the issue.”
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