Ice cream vanIs there anything better, on a hot sunny day, than hearing the sound of Greensleeves chiming from an ever-closer ice cream van? It’s a staple of British summertime.

But did you know, if it’s before 12pm, the driver will be breaking a strict Government-set code that could land him in a whole heap of trouble?

That’s right – the mean people at DEFRA say that ice cream sellers cannot play their chimes outside of the hours of noon to 7pm.

Nor must they play their chimes within 50 metres of a hospital, school during school hours, or place of worship on a Sunday. Well, we never knew.

Ice cream van playlist: small

But that’s not all. There are strict rules about the type of music played from ice cream vans, and when it should be played. For a start, it shouldn’t last longer than 12 seconds – and the ice cream man can only play it once on the approach to each stopping place, and once more when stationary.

The music should never be repeated at intervals of less than two minutes.

And, get this – chimes should never be played more than once every two hours on a particular street. So, if you miss the ice cream man once, he can’t legally come back to your road for another two hours (unless he does it silently).

Another amusing point, we think, is that chimes should not be played on a street that already has another ice cream van parked up. Once they’re stopped, it’s their territory, and it’d be breaking the ice cream code of conduct to attempt to steal customers by playing chimes.

Of course, there are also rules about the loudness of the chimes. They should not exceed 80dB – that’s about the same as a telephone ringing or a toilet flushing, so maybe a few sellers are bending the rules in pursuit of choc ice sales.

Ice cream van prosecution: MR investigates

To find out how strictly monitored ice cream vans are, Motoring Research has fired off requests to a number of local authorities to find out precisely how many ice cream vendors they’ve punished under these rules.

We’ll report back our findings; in the meantime we hope you’ll join us fight a campaign to change these super-strict guidelines. Yes, we’re launching a petition, to ease these draconian rules for the ice cream vans of Britain.

If you agree, sign our petition – and don’t forget to tell us your opinions via TwitterFacebook, or commenting below.

Oh, and here’s a cool (see what we did there?) infographic with more facts about ice cream vans, courtesy of It clearly shows ice cream men are having it tough these days… c’mon, DEFRA, isn’t it about time you eased up a little on the rules to given them a much-needed break?

Evolution of the Ice Cream Van