No place for ice cream pitch at visitor centre

How the St Mary's Headland Cafe could look, looking out towards St Mary's Lighthouse.
How the St Mary's Headland Cafe could look, looking out towards St Mary's Lighthouse.

An ice cream owner has vowed to fight for his pitch after being told to move on following a 25-year stay at the site.

Marcello di Mascio has run an ice cream stand from his van at the headland near to St Mary’s Island for a quarter of a century.

I was born into the ice cream business, my family has run businesses in the borough since the 1950s.

Marcello di Mascio

But he was left shocked after being told by North Tyneside Council that he would no longer be able to operate from the site once a new centre is built on part of the car park at the headland, as it will feature a café.

Mr di Mascio submitted a bid to open and operate a café at the site when the council held a formal procurement process in 2011, but he lost out to Crusoe’s, which will open its third café on the North Tyneside coastline.

Mr di Mascio, who lives in Cullercoats, said: “I have had this pitch for 25 years. When the café opens I will have to leave.

“My gripe is why should I leave because somebody is opening a business. It’s just unheard of.

“I was born into the ice cream business, my family has run businesses in the borough since the 1950s.

“I think it’s disgraceful the way the council is going on. There is room for two businesses here.

“Visitors might prefer to get an ice cream from me rather than stay in a café.

“I can’t see why you can’t have both – a café and an ice cream van – and give people a choice.”

More than 2,700 people have signed an online petition against the new centre, adding it will cause damage to the environment and spoil the view of the lighthouse from the mainland.

A spokesperson for North Tyneside Council said: “The operator for a new all-year round visitor facility was selected following a formal procurement process in 2011.

“The existing ice cream vendor submitted a proposal in 2011 – unfortunately, they were unsuccessful and were informed accordingly at the time, which was four years ago, and they were advised of the future timescales.

“The council is happy to work with the existing ice cream vendor to identify potential options for alternative sites; in the meantime they will be able to continue to trade from this site during 2015.

“The plans and design for the headland will be considered as part of a statutory planning process – all residents are able to view and comment on this via the council’s website once an application is submitted.

“The council will also fully take into account the views of Natural England and other relevant bodies, given the location of the site.”