AN ice cream van man has been told he risks losing his licence unless he silences his chimes at 7pm.
Willie Hooker who runs Simply Ices, received a two-page letter from East Lothian Council ordering him to stop playing “I love to go a wandering” after 7pm, effectively forcing him to stop trading at that time.
The warning follows an anonymous complaint earlier in the summer.
The 72-year-old from Haddington said: “It was a bit hard to take. I know that is the rules and it is in my agreement but the bairns were still on school holidays and were running about daft.
“A lot of people like to have an ice cream after their dinner or when they get in from work.”
Mr Hooker works all week and his round – which he has operated for nearly a decade – includes Aberlady, Dirleton, Gifford, Gullane, Haddington, Longniddry and North Berwick.
He doesn’t know where the complaint came from or whether it related to his van or a second Simply Ices van which his daughter Yvonne Mitchell drives.
He said in the past people had asked him to keep the chimes switched off because they were trying to get a baby to sleep and he bore that in mind when he came back to that area.
But he said customers had agreed the blanket order for silence after 7pm was unfair. “Everybody has said the same: ‘It’s ridiculous’.
“Children are back at school now so I start at about 4.30pm and that only gives me two and a half hours until 7pm.”
Jan Wilson, chair of Haddington Community Council, sympathised with Mr Hooker’s situation.
She suggested an 8pm switch-off as a compromise and criticised the council’s stance as “a wee bit harsh”.
She said: “When you think of some of the noises that go on between 7pm and midnight it is a wee bit excessive.”
And she asked how people would know the ice cream van was outside if it was not allowed to play its chimes.
“The van a lot of the time doesn’t come out until people get home from work.”
A council spokeswoman said the times when chimes could be played were laid down in the conditions of an operator’s licence.
She said: “Initially we would try to bring it to the person’s attention. However, if there were significant repetitions they come before the licensing committee for a breach of conditions.”
Ultimately the committee could revoke the licence. But the spokeswoman said the council was “always keen to work with people to resolve matters”.