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Traders in battle over ice-cream

PUBLISHED: 10:16 28 July 2008 | UPDATED: 11:27 03 July 2010

ICE CREAM war has broken out on Yarmouth seafront with traders accusing the borough council of allowing the tenant of its former tourist information centre to enter into unfair competition.

ICE CREAM war has broken out on Yarmouth seafront with traders accusing the borough council of allowing the tenant of its former tourist information centre to enter into unfair competition.

Local businessman Herbert Grey took over the prime seafront site last season transforming it into the Candy Cabin sweetshop, but since then he has whipped up rival traders by selling ice creams and doughnuts as well - and even putting fridges on the pavement outside.

The row has now come to a head following a meeting of the council's development control committee which agreed to grant Mr Grey retrospective planning permission for the pavement fridges and ruled that selling ice creams and doughnuts did not infringe his planning permission as a retail outlet.

Last night, Mr Grey expressed relief that the issue had been sorted and insisted the council - his landlord - had always told him he could trade in such a manner. He said: “The other traders are concerned about increased competition but that is not a planning issue.”

However, Arthur Crick, who has run Lorenzo's ice cream parlour on the opposite side of Marine Parade for 10 years, said: “When the tourist information centre moved to Maritime House and the council put the old building out to tender several years ago, they expressly asked for business propositions that would not interfere with existing traders.

“The first two years it was a joke shop, which was all right, and a straightforward sweetshop would be reasonable. But since Mr Grey has begun selling cold drinks and ice creams my business has been hit by a 10pc fall and other traders have been affected even worse.”

Mr Crick said other traders who had inquired about leasing the former tourist information centre had been bluntly told they would not be able to sell ice cream, and it was difficult to see how it could justified by A1 retail planning permission.

“We all feel a tenant of a council owned building has been given preferential treatment,” he said.

He warned that a host of traders, including himself, now intended to place fridges on the pavement outside and see what happened.

Other objectors to Mr Grey's retrospective planning permission included Michael Cole, boss of the Joyland fun park, Britannia Pier Donuts and the pier's American Burger Bar.

Charles Reynolds, chairman of the development control committee, admitted it was a “very bad decision” to have granted planning permission. He said: “I don't think it is fair bearing in mind all the traders along there.”

However committee member Bert Collins, past cabinet member for tourism, said Mr Grey was a young man trying to make a living who had invested heavily in the site. He said he felt the council had been as much to blame by not clearly explaining the issues regarding planning permission.

The lease on the site expires at the end of the season when the council will be inviting fresh tenders.

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