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Lincolnshire firm Harrison’s Ices threatened with legal action after noise complaint over Blue Peter-style chimes





A Lincolnshire ice cream van owner has been threatened with possible legal action over the ‘excessive use’ of his ‘overly loud’ Blue Peter-style chimes.

John Barton, who runs Harrison's Ices, was left stunned when he received a council letter saying they'd had complaints about his jingles.

East Lindsey District Council said there had been reports of ‘undue noise’ caused by the ‘misuse/overuse of the chimes’ from his bright pink and white van.

Harrison’s Ices which operates in Lincolnshire and is getting an icy reception for its loud jingles. Photo released May 23 2024.
Harrison’s Ices which operates in Lincolnshire and is getting an icy reception for its loud jingles. Photo released May 23 2024.

The letter warned him they had a duty to investigate the complaint and he could face possible prosecution at court under the Control of Pollution Act 1974.

The council wrote: "It is alleged that when the weather is nice the van is in the area nearly every evening from between 18.00-19.00.

"It has been alleged the chimes are overly loud and are used excessively between the above times.

"It is alleged the Blue Peter style chimes are sounded too often/frequently and potentially for too long."

But baffled John, 33, claims he is not breaking any rules and his vans stick to the required 45db limit when playing their favourite chime in 12 second bursts.

The company has four vans that serve ice cream across the Louth, Grimsby and Cleethorpes areas of Lincolnshire.

The letter sent on April 25 stated the complaints centered around streets in Louth including Eastfield Road, Park Avenue and Chestnut Drive.

John says he doesn't even go down some of those streets and he sounds his distinctive chimes in line with government guidelines.

John, who has been running the company for ten years, said: "I have come across some weird things in my time and I have to say this is one of the weirdest.

“The letter basically told us someone had complained that we play our chimes too loud and are claiming we are breaking the law.

"They’re not too loud, I can barely hear it in my van - it's 12 second of music and its not in your ear. If I’m in my living room you can’t hear the vans.

“It really depends on the chime, Just One Cornetto is loud and high pitched. It’s the Blue Peter chime we use, which isn’t.

"In the middle of the summer season, you don't expect to get that sort of complaint.

“Someone has got too much time on their hands."

Harrison’s Ices which operates in Lincolnshire and is getting an icy reception for its loud jingles. Photo released May 23 2024.
Harrison’s Ices which operates in Lincolnshire and is getting an icy reception for its loud jingles. Photo released May 23 2024.

Dad-of-three John has vowed to continue sounding his chimes around the streets of Louth despite the complaint.

He added: "Initially I was annoyed but we’re going to carry on going to Louth. We’ve been doing it for ten years.

“The street that made the complainant, we don’t even go down that street. I know for a fact you can’t hear mine two or three streets away.

“In ten years I've never had a complaint about my products.

“The issue I've got, is the government don’t work in ice cream vans. The rules are killing people of.

"They’re putting an end to the industry. They don’t have a restriction on how much tax and VAT I pay. Who genuinely makes these decisions?”

John also took to Facebook to share his frustration and wrote: "What has the world come too when you have people complaining about an ice cream van noise .. at 6pm. In the afternoon.

"These people won’t ever come out to the ice cream van, they will hate seeing children happy, hate the sound of something joyfully and happy.

"If this is you - GET A LIFE! Get ya self out and buy an ice cream - it might make you feel a bit happier about life."

A spokesperson for East Lindsey District Council said: "The council does not have a choice in whether or not to investigate.

"This is part of our statutory duty to investigate potential statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which state we must investigate all complaints we receive.

"Every year we receive and investigate in excess of 800 noise complaints about a variety of issues ranging from dog barking to industrial noise."

The authority said the case was at an initial stage of investigation and they had written to the owner to confirm the complaint and to offer guidance.

They pointed out the legislation regarding the use of loud speakers on ice cream vans requires:

* The loudspeaker is operated only between the hours of noon and 7 pm on the same day.

* The loudspeaker is fixed to a vehicle which is being used for the conveyance of a perishable commodity for human consumption.

* The loudspeaker is operated solely for informing members of the public (otherwise than by means of words) that the commodity is on sale from the vehicle.

* The loudspeaker is so operated as not to give reasonable cause for annoyance to persons in the vicinity.

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