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Why have the councillor and councillors not acted against the pollution of ice-cream vans?

10 May, 2018

• WE noticed the irony of the fact that our last letter complaining about the persistence of ice-cream vans being allowed to pollute the air around Primrose Hill with impunity was published alongside a letter from three Camden councillors claiming to care about air quality, (Ice-cream vans a pollution menace, March 8).

We have no reason to dispute their sincerity. However assuming that they do care, they are clearly in a minority among their colleagues.

In April 2017 (yes, last year) we wrote to the three councillors for Camden Town with Primrose Hill seeking action against the menace of these vans being allowed to stay for seven-plus hours each day in the summer, leaving their diesel engines running.

These councillors are usually extremely prompt to respond to residents’ concerns. On this occasion, however. no response was received. This led to our first letter to New Journal as published last spring.

As still no response came from the council, last July, we then wrote to Georgia Gould assuming that she actually cared about pollution, health and safety, and food licensing laws being flouted on her watch. Again, not even the courtesy of an acknowledgement.

Then we discovered that other residents and businesses were encountering a similar conspiracy of silence whenever they raised the question of these ice-cream drivers (who congregate in Camden because neighbouring boroughs do not tolerate them).

It was only when an earlier draft of this letter was copied to the councillors two weeks ago that a response emerged.

The thrust of that response was that the councillors do not respond to anonymised correspondence (despite the genuine fears among our members of revenge by the ice-cream vendors).

However our subsequent attempts at engagement with the councillors, by our one member brave enough to identify himself, have been met by a deafening silence.

This is no real surprise as the same councillors failed to engage with the same named member in correspondence over the past year (including considerable documentary evidence of the problem, just in case the councillors were unaware of it) and also our letter to Georgia Gould). Cllr Gould has also not to date responded to him.

Different parts of the council (street trading, parking enforcement, and now the councillors themselves) have all come up with different – and often contradictory – reasons why they cannot tackle the menace of the polluting ice-cream vans.

The irresistible conclusion is, regrettably, that there is simply not the political will to do so. We shall let others speculate as to the reasons, for such a laissez-faire attitude in this matter.

If the excuses given to us to date are genuine, they could all be solved by the council making an application to the High Court for an injunction, breach of which would render the drivers liable to imprisonment.

Is there a councillor out there who is willing to engage in the issue and either tackle the problem or explain why they won’t?

In the absence of proper engagement, we will continue to assume that the councillors simply do not care about the local residents and businesses being slowly poisoned.



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