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Lyndhurst traders give frosty reception to ice cream van at Bolton's Bench

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AN ice cream van at one of the New Forest’s most famous landmarks has got a frosty reception from local businesses who have accused it of stealing their trade.

The vehicle which operates from the car park at Bolton’s Bench in Lyndhurst was highlighted at the Verderers’ Court where traders claimed it was discouraging visitors from spending in village shops.

They called for it to be stripped of its Forestry England licence, saying it was a threat to the high street.

The ice cream van at Bolton's Bench
The ice cream van at Bolton's Bench

Lyndhurst district councillor Hilary Brand, former chair of the village’s chamber of trade, told the meeting she had been contacted by shops, pubs and cafes with concerns about the newly arrived van.

She continued: “The last two years have been extremely difficult for the Lyndhurst High Street. The majority of our businesses have been closed more than they have been open – impacting turnover, takings and therefore profit.”

She warned that footfall was down 20% on pre-Covid years amid rising gas and electricity prices, supply costs and wages.

Claiming that the ice cream van was discouraging visitors from walking into the village, Cllr Brand asked the verderers to object to its licence and suggested it should be “moved on” to a more suitable location.

The A&T asked the ice cream van operator for comment.

Tim Laine, of Forest Glade Ice Cream in High Street, also called for permission for the van to be rescinded.

He said: “The van benefits from visitors using free car parking, pays no rates to the local council, and has an unfair advantage of businesses in the village.

“You can imagine a young family walking up to bench and enjoying the fresh air, coming back and having an ice cream and moving on.

“There is no chance to walk to the village and see the shops – so it has a huge effect.

“Anything that dissuades tourists from walking into the village and browsing has a detrimental effect on the continuing success of the High Street.”

A spokesperson for Forestry England comfirmed that the Bolton’s Bench ice cream vendor was granted a licence with approval from the verderers, following a full discussion at the Verderers’ Court.

The said: “We have a limited number of sources of income to sustain our activities and funds raised from working with commercial partners is reinvested back into caring for the New Forest – planting trees, looking after wildlife, maintaining tracks and fencing, conservation work and much more.

“Given the significant increase seen in those using the Forest in recent years, and the consequential rise in maintenance and conservation costs, our income is now more stretched than ever.”

They added: “For many years now, licences have been issued for ice cream vendors to sell from mobile units within a limited number of Forestry England car parks across the New Forest.

“The specific location and overall number of vendors we are permitted to licence requires approval from the verderers of the New Forest and is debated in the open Verderers’ Court.

“In relation to the new location at Bolton’s Bench it was felt that this would join the existing wide range of competing hospitality and catering options situated both in and around the village. The ice cream vendor joins this already wide range of offers.”

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