Changes to the way ice-cream is sold on Morecambe prom are still under discussion after city councillors could not come to a decision on the future of the trade.
Concerns had previously been raised by Morecambe town councillors about locals losing their livelihoods, and a letter was sent to the city council expressing concern that they were not letting contracts for the sale of ice-cream on the promenade to commercial operatives in a seaside town where private enterprise should be promoted.
Couns Tricia Heath, Geoff Knight, Merv Evans, Cary Matthews and Roger Dennison put together a motion at the recent full council meeting, outlining their concern at changes to the way ice-cream sellers could operate in the town.
“It has not escaped the general public’s attention that there were no ice-cream vans in their usual spots on Morecambe promenade during the very hot spell of weather at Easter,” they said.
“Lancaster City Council has for many years received guaranteed revenue from leasing these sites to local business. This ended this year as Lancaster City Council has apparently decided it would make much more money from selling ice-creams themselves.
“We all know this will never be the case. It has been proved by the council’s failed attempts to run business in the past.
“Lancaster City Council has already lost 1/2 years’ rental income from concessionaires and we see no evidence that the council has put any money aside to provide their own ice-cream vans.
“Does this mean that this council no longer has any plans to provide ice-cream vans on Morecambe promenade?
“If so, we are leaving the door wide open for unregulated traders to turn up which raises health and safety concerns.
“Apparently it has also been the policy to cancel leases on cafes at the end of their term. This means that a local resident who has worked hard and put their heart and soul into building up a business will have this taken away from them by the council on the grounds that the council will now keep the profit.
“This does not inspire entrepreneurship in the town nor does it inspire being in partnership with Lancaster City Council. Is there any member that thinks this is a sensible or desirable way forward?
“Other cafe owners have now been told that they will not be able to renew their lease – what incentive is there to invest in or improve their business?”
The councillors proposed that the council should not take the livelihoods of local residents away from them by not renewing their leases and should not begin the business of selling ice-creams on Morecambe promenade.
An amendment to the motion moved by Coun Tim Hamilton-Cox, seconded by Coun Erica Lewis, that cabinet members take further soundings on the matters raised by the motion, was accepted by Coun Heath, and as a result, the discussion will resume at full council on July 17 for a final decision.
Coun Erica Lewis, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “The city council faces a number of significant financial challenges in both the short and medium term, with a forecast budget deficit of £2.3m in the next financial year, due to continued reductions in government funding.
“To address this challenge, the council is examining areas where it can be more commercial and generate additional income. One way we can do this is making better use of our own assets, including Morecambe promenade.
“Meeting our financial challenges will require all councillors working together. It was disappointing that concerns were not raised with either myself or the cabinet member prior to the motion being put to council, an approach which has now delayed action for several weeks.
“My door is always open and I look forward to working productively with councillors from across the political spectrum to support local businesses and providing services to residents.”