A POPULAR Milford beauty spot was at the centre of a cold war after rival ice cream traders went head to head on a sunny afternoon.
Despite operating her ice cream business at New Lane in Keyhaven for six years, Debbie Head was shocked when another vendor set up shop in her patch last Sunday.
Debbie told the A&T: “There is an unwritten rule amongst street traders that you don’t just turn up and start trading on an existing pitch.
“I have run my business at Keyhaven for the last six years but we can trace the previous owners of the business back at least 50 years.”
Debbie was tipped off that another ice cream vendor had been trading from her New Lane patch whilst she was on holiday, and the following day she arrived to discover a rival van in her usual spot.
She said: “I left a successful career as a driving instructor to carry on this business when the last owner was selling up. I have invested a lot of my time and money in it.
“I am a local person serving locally made New Forest Ice Cream and I use local traders for all my van needs.”
Debbie says that there is not enough trade at Keyhaven to sustain two ice cream vans, and feels that it is unfair for another vendor to cherry pick the sunny weekend days.
She said: “I know lots of the locals and feel like I am part of the community. My children were at school in Milford and I have a long association with the village.”
As well as selling ice creams Debbie also provides information on Hurst Castle, runs an unofficial lost property service, and has often helped out with blankets and first aid when people are hurt near her van.
She said: “I keep my prices competitive so I can provide local people with a service as well as holiday makers. Sometimes during the week I will be there for hours with hardly any trade – but you have to take the rough with the smooth.
“I have been asked if I could do events and weddings but I won’t do anything like that because I feel like it is important to provide a service at Keyhaven.”
The second trader has not returned to Keyhaven since the photo was taken.
A spokesperson for New Forest District Council confirmed the authority does not issue licences for specific street trading locations.