ICE-CREAM vans were at the centre of a chilly debate, after a complaint was raised about the fumes released at Gostrey Meadow.

Councillor George Hesse shared his concerns at last week’s Farnham Town Council meeting.

He said: “When I was in Devon during the summer I saw one that was battery powered – no emissions at all. I’m really keen this is followed up. Quite frankly, young families picnicking, sitting on the ground on blankets downwind of that is just not acceptable.

Cllr Kika Mirylees backed Cllr Hesse, adding: “It is really, really dangerous. It’s such an enclosed area with lots of small children and it’s really damaging to them.”

But Cllr Carole Cockburn defended the vans, saying: “I fully back cleaner vehicles, don’t get me wrong – but I must put in a word for Mr Whippy.

“I’m sorry, but on a hot day, Mr Whippy with a chocolate flake it really is one of life’s pleasures. But that’s not saying they can’t improve their cleanliness.”

Cllr Cockburn asked councillors to stop turning “everything into a worthy cause”.

Town clerk Iain Lynch confirmed a “very comprehensive, technical response” had been received from ice-cream company Sir Whippy.

But he said the issue was “not as black and white as you think” and that it was “very unfortunate” Cllr Hesse had not read the whole of the firm’s email.

Andy Newland, company director at Sir Whippy, said the ice-cream vans had dual catalytic converters so there were no emissions “until the van leaves the site”. He added they were not giving out carbon dioxide, but water vapour.

He told the Herald the vans were cleaner than ever and as that as soon as a viable diesel-free van was available, “they would be investing".

In the meantime, Mr Newland suggested vans could be plugged into power points on site or use a trailer instead of a van.