A coffee van which had been serving takeaway drinks and treats in Ponteland had been operating without a licence, Ponteland Town Council heard.

The van has now applied for a street trading licence, and the county council has sought the comments of the town council.

In a Ponteland Town Council meeting held last Wednesday (March 10), members discussed the issue.

Mayor of Ponteland Coun. Alan Varley said: “We have to be as fair as possible to our businesses who pay rates.”

Coun. Alan Hall also said he is concerned local businesses will lose custom if people get used to carts. Coun. Sue Johnson added: “We cannot afford to lose local businesses.”

Coun. Richard Dodd, county councillor for Ponteland North, later said: “I want to stick up for our local shops who are paying rates and rent in our village, not coming in from the rest of the North East to make a quick buck.”

Coun. Dodd also said he was concerned that food and drink vans could contribute to the spread of Covid-19, through coming to the town but also by people gathering when ordering items.

“Some of them come from here, there and everywhere,” he said.

Whilst noting it is not against the rules, Coun. Dodd said “it doesn’t feel like the spirit of lockdown”.

“I don’t want to go back to another lockdown for the sake of street food or a cup of coffee,” he added.

Members questioned in the meeting why they hadn’t been consulted on other licence applications for food and drink vans that have visited the town.

It was agreed more information would be sought before they agree a response to the county council’s request for comments.