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Licence row puts ice cream van at risk after 30 years in Hampstead

Camden hands temporary licence to new vendor in Downshire Hill

12 August, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Anthony and Cengiz Ahmet

A FAMILY-RUN ice cream van is at risk of being squeezed out of the borough after 30 years amid a row over licences.

Cengiz Ahmet first began pulling ice creams from his van in Downshire Hill in 1990, but the council has now handed a licence to a new operator. It is part of a temporary system as Camden reviews where it will permit vans to operate in the future.

If the Town Hall decides the road in Hampstead should be approved as a permanent site, operators will compete for the licence.

Mr Ahmet said: “I developed a bond, a relationship, with the residents. They’ve all got to know me. I’ve seen their children grow up – I’ve seen three generations now. At the end of the day this is my livelihood. I’ve got shivers down my spine talking about it. It’s upsetting.”

The family started an online petition on Saturday which has gathered over 400 signatures. They say there are 100 extra signatures on a hand-written paper petition.

After Mr Ahmet’s brother Naz died from cancer six years ago, his son Anthony, 30, took over, forming a father and son team.

Anthony Ahmet said: “I love doing what I do. We serve the public, we make children happy and everyone’s happy. You have the best conversations with the public – when you’ve known them for such a long period they start talking to you about their work life, they’re home life, you have a laugh and a joke – it’s nice. You can go to work in a bad mood and once you meet the customers, you’re happy and smiling.”

A protest was held on Saturday in Downshire Hill with supporters against the council’s decision to hand the licence to another vendor.

Anthony Ahmet said: “For Camden Council to come and give it to someone else – it’s wrong.We comply with licensing regulations. Our vans are ULEZ compliant and can be plugged in to help the environment. Our prices are clearly advertised and we have our vans inspected with five-star ratings. We have healthy and vegan options too.”

He added: “My dad has been pushing for these licences. My dad wanted this business to be legitimate and to be handed down to family members. He can get a licence elsewhere but he doesn’t want to go. We have been here for so long.”

The council has introduced temporary licences across five sites including Camden High Street, Albert Terrace, Downshire Hill and Russell Square.

Camden’s finance chief Councillor Richard Olszewski said: “We are currently undertaking a month-long ice cream van licensing trial at five locations across the borough.

“This scheme involves the issue of temporary licences to ice cream sellers and is designed to achieve several positive outcomes, including; improved air quality and reduced emissions from engine idling through the ability to run on electric or battery; high levels of hygiene; clearly advertised pricing; the inclusion of healthier options such as frozen yogurt or fruit, and to promote safety for both ice cream sellers and residents.”

He added:  “If the trial is successful, we will be able to make an informed decision as to whether any of the sites will become permanent for ice cream trading and if they require any further amendments to their location, times or licence. Should it be decided to make any of these sites permanent, they will be re-advertised, later this year, and existing and new traders will need to apply for a trading licence.”

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