Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Jingle Jangle

Apart from the lightning flashes and thunder late last night, the last two days (during daylight hours) have been remarkably free of rain, and indeed there has been some sunshine. It is May and the darling buds time of year after all. But all is not well – Knowsie writes:
As it is warm enough to open the windows for some fresh air for the first time in weeks, we have been deafened by the dreaded ice cream van. I was looking for info on Redbridge-i but failed (as usual) - so I broadened the search and came up with this, which is a proposal to relax much of the existing regulation. Old and new are here.
Perhaps this should have a more public airing - or is Barkingside immune from this menace?
They operate in the rain too!

Well, to be honest I am surprised that Ice Cream Vans still exist now that we all have freezers and can have a lollipop or an ice cream any time we choose. And of course we people of Barkingside also have Rossi’s in the High Street. Nevertheless they are still with us and they are noisy, and it’s not just the volume it’s the tinny sound and the irritating tune, a bit like the Eurovision song contest.

Here’s John Penrose MP, the Minister for Tourism and Heritage on the subject:
... did you know that the very same jingle that set the battle lines in place, is exhaustively regulated by a stringent Code of Practice? (pdf, 1.42MB) Me neither, but it is. And it makes fascinating reading. You don’t have to be a trained solicitor to see the sheer hopelessness and potential for misunderstanding contained in it.
The Control of Pollution Act 1974, which is the mother ship for all this, makes it an offence to sound chimes "at any time in a way which gives reasonable cause of annoyance" and then enumerates the many and various ways in which "annoyance" might be caused. There are rules on length and frequency of chime, particular hours of the day when chiming is banned, the types of building that must not be in earshot of chiming and – my particular favourite – a stipulation that the luckless Mr Whippy must not chime "as loudly in quiet areas or narrow streets as elsewhere", the sheer subjectivity of which sets your head spinning.

This, I should add, is but one of thousands of examples of red tape and petty bureaucracy that have grown like bindweed through our business and commercial life over the last few decades. There are rules on things like arsenic and chloroform in water that, despite having been drawn up 30 or so years ago and long-since replaced by more effective and fit-for-purpose regulations, are still alive and well and being at best a distraction, and at worst a slow puncture, for people trying to grow a business.

But last week we set something up that might just help turn the tide on all this nonsense. The Red Tape Challenge is a website where you can go, leave your thoughts and experiences of all the rules and regulations that impact on your private and business life, and challenge Whitehall where necessary to justify each and every one of them. If they’re fair and sensible, like the rules on food hygiene and safety at work, they can stay. But if they’re shown to be out of date, contradictory or pointlessly bureaucratic then the working presumption will be that they’re for the chop. We want, in fact, to be the first government in living memory to leave office with fewer regulations than when we came in. The Cabinet Office is holding the ring on all this, and have divided the business world up into its different sectors, allowing each one to be in the spotlight for four weeks. The hospitality, food and drink industries – including mobile ice cream vendors, of course - are having their turn at the moment: I hope you’ll log on and have your say.
The problem for Knowsie is that piece was published on May 12th 2011 and I fear he may be too late.


  1. Not so - well, not quite ...

    My first link contains this:

    The deadline for comment is 14:00 on Thursday 31 May 2012.

    However, what concerns me is the way this consultation appears to have been so well hidden from those who it most affects - the public - that I only stumbled across it by accident. But then, to quote again from the same link:

    The consultation ... will be of particular interest to those in the ice-cream and other mobile vendor industries, local authority environmental health departments, members of the public with an interest in chimes, and other interested stakeholders with views on noise issues.

    So, as a member of the public, unless you have a particular interest in 'chimes' (whatever that means!) you're not supposed to be interested!

    B21 says "... I am surprised that Ice Cream Vans still exist now that we all have freezers and can have a lollipop or an ice cream any time we choose ..." which has a strong element of truth because, in the case of our local culprit, there is so little trade these days (I don't know why he keeps coming round) that he sounds his chime, stops, nobody appears, he goes again and repeats the operation all in the space of around 30 seconds - rather than the three minutes permitted (two minutes proposed).

    At least he keeps to around the 4 second chime period allowed but the proposal is to increase this time to 12 seconds, on the basis that: it is difficult to play a recognisable tune in 4 seconds!

    So how long does it take to play/recognise "Girls and boys come out to play","Popeye the sailor man" or our chap's favourite, the dwarfs' theme from "Snow White", for heaven's sake?

    So, what happened to John Penrose's idea of scrapping this all this petty bureaucracy? This exercise proposes tinkering with an exclusion to the law. It is outdated and unnecessary, so why not scrap it altogether?

    We would then be left with the original law as written, which makes it an offence to operate, or permit the operation of, a loudspeaker in the street ...at ... any ... time, for the purpose of advertising any entertainment, trade or business.

    Wouldn't that be simpler - and better ...?

    This link will take you straight to the consultation document.


    * As you might expect, these contraventions are now being logged ...

  2. I think people like you should get a life there chime is on no longer than 10 seconds and the kids love it!

    1. The Anonymous comment above came from someone who arrived at this page via a Google search on the word string:

      "redbridge vision park licence for ice cream vans"

      You don't suppose it could be our very own local "Mr Whippy" and the subject of Knowsie's ire?

    2. Mr Whippy? Oh, no - more likely somebody who's whipped (and needs some spelling lessons).

    3. Quite!

      "there chime is on no longer than 10 seconds"

      Grammar: the difference between knowing there's shit, knowing their shit and knowing they're shit!

    4. Such an earthy analysis Weggis......