Popular Woking ice cream seller brands council meeting ‘last chance’ to save his business

December 6, 2018
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A popular ice cream seller is preparing for the “last chance” to save his business after earning a place to plead his case in front of Woking Borough Council (WBC) councillors.

Residents have been campaigning to allow the “Mr Carlos” ice cream van, operated by a father and son team, to sell at Woking Park since it was replaced by a kiosk to offer a wider variety of refreshments.

The campaign culminated in a petition that reached 1,145 signatures – nearly treble the 400-signature threshold for the matter to be debated at a full council meeting – which will be presented to councillors on Thursday evening (December 6).

WBC decided to build the kiosk following a public consultation asking the park’s visitors what refreshment facilities they would like to see. Joe Bellanca and his father, Carlos, were advised that they would be able to submit a proposal to run the kiosk when the opportunity was advertised.

(Image: Surrey Advertiser)

The pair claimed they produced a business proposal when the opportunity arose, but that they were turned down in favour of Freedom Leisure, a not-for-profit trust.

Joe said: “I am just overwhelmed at the support I have had from the local community. We have had over 1,000 signatures just from that one petition and I only needed 400. We could have got more if we had kept it running.

“I get three minutes in front of the council to state my case and will try my best to speak from the heart. We are a local business and my dad has been in the area for over 40 years. This has been going on for a year and I am afraid my business will come to an end. It has ground me down and this is the last chance I have got.”

He also claimed to have offered to pay for the kiosk if he could have operated from it.

A spokesman for WBC said: “Following a public consultation in 2016 asking visitors what refreshment facilities they would like to see at Woking Park, plans were developed to operate a kiosk providing a variety of hot and cold refreshments that met the needs of all park visitors. The opportunity to run the kiosk was advertised publicly inviting potential operators to submit their proposals. These were then assessed and a contract awarded to run the kiosk.”

The council declined to comment on the petition ahead of Thursday’s meeting.

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The kiosk opened over Easter weekend, from which time the Mr Carlos ice cream van was no longer permitted to sell at the site. They do not want the kiosk to be removed, just to be allowed to sell in the park at which they claim to have developed relationships with frequent visitors.

Despite the large backing the campaign has received, council officers have recommended that the kiosk is not removed as the current term of agreement does not expire until 2025.

Article source: https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/popular-woking-ice-cream-seller-15511830


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