Icecream seller at Strand on the Green seeks to trade again outside the primary school

Image above: Non Solo Gelato’s tricycle ice cream stand

An ice cream salesman who is seeking to again trade outside of Strand-on-the-Green school is facing fierce opposition from parents and school leadership.

Marcele Detomaso, who sells artisanal gelato from his tricycle, has applied to LB Hounslow to park his ‘No Solo Gelato’ stand outside Strand-on-the-Green Infant and Junior Schools for another year, where he will intermittently sell his product over a period of six months. Councillors will decide whether to grant or reject his application on Tuesday (19 April).

In 2021, a Hounslow Licensing Panel panel granted Mr Detomaso’s six-month temporary licence application to station the gelato bike more than 30 metres away from the gates on Brooks Lane. The application went through despite objections by the head teachers of both schools, who claimed they receive negative feedback every year from parents who have no choice but to walk past Mr Detomaso with their children whenever he is trading.

Mr Detomaso’s application this year is has met further objections, with parents claiming his mere presence puts them under undue pressure to buy ice cream for their children. Some parents argue if they do not cave in to their children’s demands for ice cream, this creates conflict that would otherwise have been avoided.

Dismayed at the successful application in 2021, Strand-on-the-Green’s Infant and Junior schools have upped their efforts to get the application rejected this time around. The school surveyed 255 parents in March this year to make sure they were ‘accurately sharing the views’ of the school’s community. The survey revealed a majority of parents (57.3%) objected to the vendor selling his ice cream.

Mr Detomaso has rejected descriptions of him by some parents as a “cynical” trader targeting young children with his product and disagrees he is fuelling childhood obesity. He says he sells his organic gelato only with the consent of parents and claims his trading is more ethical than the school’s own meals policy, which offers children a choice between a selection of daily desserts including flapjacks, cake, jelly, crumble and cream, chocolate cookies, brownies, shortcakes or ice cream.

Image above: Strand-on-the-Green school, reults from Strand-on-the-Green’s ice cream vendor survey

Opponents cite safety concerns, obesity fears and pressure from their children

Parents opposing the Mr Detomaso’s ice cream stand have largely echoed objections raised by the school’s headteachers in 2021. They cite childhood obesity, long lines forming near a busy road and ice cream causing unnecessary arguments between them and their children as their main issues with Mr Detomaso selling near to the school gates.

One parent answered the survey saying:

“There is an obesity epidemic. Many local authorities do not grant licenses to trade so close to schools and Hounslow has a moral responsibility to protect our children. Everyone has the right to choose what to give their children, but a pitch so close to the school effectively in the exit path from school for many children, is not providing them with a healthy environment.”

Another said they “cannot get past easily” when Mr Detomaso is trading and added the stand was “too close to main road where his customers congregate and it means others with children have to walk out on to the road to get past. It is too much at home time”

Another parent said they never ordered from Mr Detomaso out of principle:

“Personally, I have made a point of never purchasing from him (despite my children “begging” almost daily). This is not because I think my children should never eat an ice-cream (they do), but because I think an ice cream vendor should not be encouraged if he positions himself immediately next to a school (and ditto next to the recreation ground, to catch the second wave of those same kids). This man should simply know better and if you can get him moved, all the better.”

Image above: Marcele Detomaso

Supporters say “Let him sell his ice creams. He makes people happy!”

Parents who support Mr Detomaso’s ice cream business, though a minority in the poll carried out by the school, were perplexed by the wave of opposition by parents. One said:

“I am not sure why so many parents oppose the ice cream vendor. It seems like they lack the discipline to manage their children therefore hoping if the vendor is not there, the problem goes away. The shop around the corner sells Ice cream too, should that be closed because some parents cannot enforce good habits?

“Yes, I appreciate the school is aiming for healthy eating but there is also a lot to be said for rewarding good behaviour similar to the schools numerous stars and stamps system. My son is allowed one a week when he is there and we do not discuss the ice cream person the rest of the time.”

Another parent said:

“I see no problem in having an ice cream vendor on the corner. Occasionally we bought ice cream as a treat from the man too. Children know that we do not buy ice cream every day and never had any issue with just passing by when others were queueing to get one. Of course, I understand that the views may be different for other families with smaller children.”

Another parent in support of ice cream said:

“Because it is a lovely thing to do on a summers day. I cannot see the issue in having him there. He is next to a shop that sells chocolate and ice creams and a post officeselling sweets and he’s not bothering anyone more than the shops are. People can walk home another way if they do not want to go past him. Let us be sensible about this! Let him sell his ice creams. He makes people happy!”

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