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Noise from Ice Cream Vans

Traditionally there is a long history of sale of perishable food from vehicles within this country. Any vehicle selling perishable food is entitled to advertise the fact using a loudspeaker in order to attract custom. The most common example is the ice cream van. The legislation controlling ice cream van chimes (and others selling perishable food) is the same as that for noise in streets. Under normal circumstances such vehicles are exempt from that legislation providing they are in compliance with a specific code of practice, "Code of Practice on Noise from Ice Cream Van Chimes Etc." This specifically lists how loud and for how long a loud speaker may be used. It also restricts the use to certain times of day.

The Law

Under the Control of Pollution Act 1974, it is an offence to operate or permit the operation of any loudspeaker of the 'ice-cream van chimes' type in a street unless the following conditions are complied with:

  1. The loudspeaker is operated only between the hours of 12 noon and 7 pm;

  2. The loudspeaker is fixed to a vehicle which is being used for the conveyance of a perishable food for human consumption;

  3. The loudspeaker is operated solely for informing members of the public (otherwise than by means of words) that the commodity is on sale from the vehicle;

  4. The loudspeaker is so operated as not to give reasonable cause for annoyance to persons in the vicinity.

Code of Practice

The Code of Practice below gives guidance on methods of minimising annoyance or disturbance caused by the operation of loudspeakers fixed to ice-cream vans and similar vehicles used to convey and sell perishable commodities for human consumption to the public. The code should however be taken as applying equally to any other sounds made by a loudspeaker fixed to a vehicle from which food is sold to the public in a street.

Do not sound chimes…

  1. for longer than 4 seconds at a time (use a cut out device);

  2. more often than once every 3 minutes;

  3. when the vehicle is stationary;

  4. except on approach to a selling point;

  5. when in sight of another vehicle which is trading;

  6. when within 50 metres of schools (during school hours), hospitals, and places of worship (on Sundays and other recognised day of worship);

  7. more often than once every 2 hours in the same length of street;

  8. louder than 80 dB(A) at 7.5 metres;

  9. as loudly in quiet areas or narrow streets as elsewhere.

It is an Offence Under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 to sound chimes;

  1. Before 12 noon and after 1900 hours

  2. At any time in a way which gives reasonable cause of annoyance

Contact Details

  • Name Environmental Safety and Health
  • Address People Directorate, 3-5 St James's Road, Dudley, DY1 1HZ
  • Telephone 0300 555 2345