The exclusive right to sell ice cream at Benone Beach is worth £21,600, it has been revealed.
The licensing by the local council of the rights to sell ice cream at Benone has been a contentious issue for years - dating back well before the Causeway Coast and Glens council took over from the old Limavady Borough Council.
Fears had been expressed earlier this year, when the ice cream trading rights were brought up at the shadow council, that “ice cream wars” could break out at Benone.
Figures released this to members of Causeway Coast and Glens Environmental Services Committee have revealed the outcome of an auction for the allocation of trading rights at locations across the Borough.
As the retrospective approval was agreed by members, many raised issues about trading at Benone beach. The contract was won by to ice cream vendor, Mr R Carton, who placed a bid of £18,000 plus vat (£21,600) per year to trade at the site for the next three years.
Limavady SDLP councillor Gerry Mullan said he was happy to support the approval, but he questioned whether the ice cream vendor could facilitate all of the visitors using the beach.
“He would be failing to provide an adequate service with one van,” said Cllr Mullan.
Chief executive David Jackson said that he had been on the beach over the busy Easter period and had observed ice cream sales. He reassured members that there was no pressure on the vendor.
Director of Environmental Services Aidan McPeak advised members that the vendor had the use of three vans. “He’s paid for the site, it is up to him how he maximises his revenue,” he said.
Coleraine PUP councillor Russell Watton noted that the issue had already been debated at a previous meeting; he said: “It is too much for one person. This was a mistake for the start,” he said.
Coleraine DUP Alderman Sam Cole raised the issue of sub contracting, he said: “ I am concerned that one vendor will make money, this is grossly unfair,” he said.
Mr McPeak told the meeting that anyone who was subcontracted by a vendor had to meet the same strict criteria laid out by Council.
Limavady Sinn Fein councillor Tony McCaul noted the money that Mr Carton had paid for the right to sell ice cream at the beach, and asked how Benone beach would be policed to ensure that other vendors were not trading.
Mr McPeak said that enforcement officers would be patrolling areas across the Borough.