Owner and driver of ice cream van ordered to pay over £1,000 for illegal trading

Durham County Council’s licensing team received several complaints about ice cream vans belonging to Major Singh, of North Field Drive, Newcastle, between March and June 2021.

Peterlee Magistrates heard the first complaint about a van parked outside a school in the town in March last year. Checks revealed the vehicle belonged to Singh, 46, who did not hold a valid street trading license.

He received a warning letter, but the following month the council received a complaint about unlicensed street trading in the Vane Tempest car park.

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Permit enforcement officers showed up and informed the driver, Gurvinda Singh, that the vehicle did not have a valid trade consent.

The court heard Singh, 33, of Mimosa Place, Newcastle, was an employee of Major Singh at the time.

Further complaints were received in May, following an incident involving ice cream vans in the Vane Tempest parking lot.

Seaham Hall Beach Car Park

On this occasion, the council was able to obtain body-worn footage of the incident from Durham Constabulary to determine whether the traders involved held valid licences.

Major Singh was contacted by telephone and claimed that he had traded from this location for 11 years, but was told that he held moving consent rather than fixed consent, meaning the vehicles are only allowed to stay for 15 minutes.

In June, enforcement officers again contacted Major Singh by telephone and informed him that the applications he had submitted for his two vehicles were not complete and could not be processed.

He was warned that enforcement action would be taken if the vehicles were caught trading without consent.

The case was heard at Peterlee Magistrates Court

Magistrates heard that on June 6, a van driven by Gurvinda Singh and belonging to Major Singh was seen by law enforcement officers at the Vane Tempest parking lot for 53 minutes.

He was then seen at Seaham Hall Beach car park for 40 minutes.

Officers tipped off Gurvinda Singh and he was subsequently given an infraction letter, following further complaints from members of the public about an ice cream van being driven by someone matching his description on June 9, 14 and 15.

Gurvinda Singh pleaded guilty to trading on a street where a license or consent is required without permission, saying he trusted his employer and failed to carry out further checks.

He was ordered to pay costs and a fine totaling £325.

Major Singh’s street trading consent was revoked on June 11.

He refused requests to attend interviews and pleaded guilty to trading on a street where a license or consent is required without permission.

He was ordered to pay costs and a fine totaling £679.

Owen Cleugh, public protection officer at Durham County Council, said: “Street trading licenses are extremely important and we will take action against those who repeatedly ignore our requests to comply with the legislation. We do this to protect customers and businesses that operate legitimately.

“Legal proceedings are always a last resort but, in these cases, the advice and warnings we have given many times in person, over the phone and by mail have been ignored.

“I hope this serves as a warning that we take licensing law violations seriously.”

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