Plans to tackle ‘toxic fumes’ ice cream vans expected to be approved by council

Tower Hamlets Council may tackle ice cream vans (stock image). Pic: PA

Tower Hamlets Council may tackle ice cream vans (stock image). Pic: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Tower Hamlets Council is expected to pass plans to tackle ice cream vans which pump out toxic fumes into the air.

Most ice cream vans run on diesel and the exhausts release dangerously high levels of black carbon, a sooty substance has been proven to stunt the growth of children's lungs and trigger asthma attacks.

They need to keep their engines running while stationary in order to power the on-board freezers and whippy machine.

Next week, councillor Rachel Blake will ask the local authority to investigate working with "companies and individuals, including ice cream van owners, to encourage the switch to cleaner forms of transport."

Her motion adds: "The council resolves to investigate zero emissions ice cream vans in our parks and work with neighbouring authorities on regulations to restrict emissions from fossil fuel ice cream vans."


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The town hall is also expected to commit to installing 300 electric vehicle charging points across the borough, at the full council meeting on Wednesday.

It follows Camden Council's plan, announced in April, to install "no ice cream trading" signs for the first time in 40 streets, as well as increasing enforcement officer patrols in a bid to improve air quality.

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About 40 per cent of Tower Hamlets residents live in areas that breach EU and government guidance on safe levels of air pollution.

It is the fifth worst borough in London for air pollution and a recent study showed that children in the area have up to 10 per cent less lung capacity than normal.

The council launched its "Breathe Clean" campaign last year as a way of tackling air pollution.

An anti-idling campaign, which focuses predominantly on drivers who leave their engines on outside schools, has also been introduced.

Mayor John Biggs said: "I'm determined to make tackling air pollution a priority for the whole council. It's unacceptable that some of our local schools are among the most polluted in the city, and that people in Tower Hamlets are twice as likely to die from lung cancer and other lung diseases than people in London's most well off boroughs.

"Improving air quality is a matter of social justice and an urgent public health priority."

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