Nicola's Juice Bar on Penarth Pier holds the TripAdvisor Certificate of excellence and a top hygiene rating from the Food Standards Agency - but the Vale of Glamrogan council won't let her sell ice cream.

The popular Nicola’s Juice and Coffee Bar on Penarth Pier holds the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and a top hygiene rating from the Food Standards Agency – but the Vale of Glamorgan council won’t allow the business to sell ice-cream.

Well over 700 Penarth residents and visitors people have now signed a fast-growing petition demanding that the Vale of Glamorgan Council drops its ban on Nicola’s Juice & Coffee Bar on Penarth Pier selling ice cream.  

Nicola’s Juice Bar has been in business on Penarth Pier for 11 years but when proprietor Nicola Sullivan  first signed  the lease of the pier premises there were conditions attached by the Vale Council which meant that she was forbidden to sell ice cream.

Nicola and her two daughters have run her shop on the pier for 11 years - and not been allowed to sell a single cornet in all that time

Nicola Sullivan and her two daughters have run her shop on the pier for 11 years

Although Nicola’s Juice Bar is renowned for the quality of its smoothies, coffee, hot chocolate, soup, snacks, cakes and panninis, her landlords – the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council – has consistently refused her permission to change the terms of her lease and sell ice-cream to her customers.

The Vale had determined that only the kiosk next door – “Decks“-  could sell ice cream actually on the pier boardwalk.

"Decks" - the kiosk next doot to Nicola's was until recently the only pier outlet allowed to sell ice cream and supplies "Joe's" and "Wall's" ices.

Decks” – the kiosk next door to Nicola’s was –  until recently – the only outlet allowed to sell ice cream on the pier – and supplies two brands – “Joe’s” and “Wall’s” .

The Vale decision effectively gave Decks a monopoly of ice cream sales on the pier and restricted customers’ choice to only one outlet .

However in July  another ice cream outlet materialised on the pier offering an alternative new brand of ice cream on the pier   .

In July this year the Vale Council permitted the Penarth Pier Pavilion Cafe to start selling ice cream. It now sells "Farmer Tom's" West Country ice cream

In July this year the Penarth Pier Pavilion – which is owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council  but leased to Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd –  started selling“Farmer Tom’s” West Country Ice Cream

This was the Penarth Pier Pavilion Cafe which become the second ice-cream retailer on the pier – selling an alternative brand of ice-cream to those already sold by Decks .

The Pier Pavilion is owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council and is leased on a 125 year lease to Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd – but it had not sold ice cream at its cafe at any time from its re-opening in 2013 up until to July this year when it launched its “Farmer Tom” West Country Ice Cream. The Pier Pavilion management is however , supporting the quest by Nicola’s Juice and Coffee Bar to serve ice cream, whilst Decks is understood to be opposing it.

The situation prompted Mrs Nicola Sullivan to demand a meeting with Vale Council officials. Mrs Sullivan – says “If you can’t sell ice cream on a seaside pier then just where can you sell it?” .  In a 40-minute face-to-face meeting with Vale Council Estates Officer Angela Bailey, Mrs Sullivan asked Ms Bailey – point blank –  “Why can’t I sell ice-cream?” and says the reply she received was “I don’t know”.

Over 700 local residents have signed the petition to lift the Vale's ban on Nicola

Over 700 local residents have signed the petition to lift the Vale’s ban on Nicola

In the meantime, word about a Nicola’s Juice Bar petition circulated rapidly around the sea-front. Several residents of the nearby Balmoral and Seabank apartments asked for petition proformas and got dozens of other residents to sign . As of yesterday afternoon at total of 738 people had signed the petition.

A letter then arrived from the Vale Council which attempted to justify the continued ice-cream sales ban by claiming that the ban was – somehow –  in the interests of the public. It asserted that the restriction was imposed in order to “diversify” the choice for pier customers. Mrs Sullivan is now seeking a further meeting with Vale Council officials this week.

Nicola’s Juice Bar has the highest possible Food Standards Agency Hygiene Rating and a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence…and that  list of petition signatures is continuing to grow .

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  1. Paul says:

    “Nicola’s Juice Bar has been in business on Penarth Pier for 11 years but when proprietor Nicola Sullivan first signed the lease of the pier premises there were conditions attached by the Vale Council which meant that she was forbidden to sell ice cream.”
    She did sign it…………….

    • Paul Fenton says:

      Yes with the condition that it was reviewed after 6 months. In fact they allowed her subsequently to sell ice cream between November and December with the proviso if someone objected it would be withdrawn. Guess what someone objected!!! Was that you?
      TheVales argument went out through the window when they allowed her to sell ice cream full stop and allowing the Pavilion cafe just shows the decision to be completely flawed and contradictory.

      • Penileaks says:

        Well said Paul !

      • Paul says:

        “Guess what someone objected!!! Was that you?” Really, thats ur best defense attacking my “qualified” statement, hmmmm.
        There’s a very frosty atmosphere on here regarding this “seemingly emotive” topic…..

    • Carolyn Drew says:

      I have to say how disappointed I was today, having visited the pier. The great thing about the outlets on the pier is that there is something for everyone – I will stop and buy sweets from the sweet shop, an ice cream from Decks and juice from Nicolas Juice bar – how great I thought that the council weren’t pitting businesses against everyone, and allowing each the freedom to compliment each other. This weekend’s visit has been totally spoiled – I felt harrassed by people in the juice bar to sign the petition, and Nicola seemed to be totally vindictive towards the Decks proprietors – surely the decision wasn’t made by Decks, or any of the others who lease premises – it was made by the council and I am sure they must have explained their decision. As a tax payer and frequent visitor, I would prefer the outlets to compliment each other to earn an equal share of my hard earned money. This is why it is so lovely there. If I go the pier – I wont be buying more than one ice-cream. Come on Nicola – although your attitude has lost me as a customer, please build your own business – be innovative and work in harmony with fellow traders. I wish you success. Please don’t continue to spoil it for the public.

  2. The Tax payer says:

    I take it that some one in the Vale has a personal interest in (Decks) then ?

    • Terry says:

      I would like to know if this is the case. Has someone in the Vale got a personal interest in Decks? Would anyone know if it’s possible to find this out? Thank you.

    • Penarth Pier Lover says:

      I have spent many a long hour down st the pier just watching and listening. What has not been said in all of this is that Ms Sullivan was given the lease to this unit, because she told the Council that she wanted to offer the public healthy food and something completely different to that which was being offered by other traders. It was what she wanted to do and she knew when she signed the lease that there were limitations on the products she could sell, including ice cream. She is not alone with this and has not been singled out. Other traders have similar limitations on what they can and cannot offer.

      Also, has no one else noticed that there is hardly a monopoly of one trader selling ice cream at the pier, when there are also two units selling ice cream, one either side of the entrance of the pier? And there’s the Fig Tree too, of course.


  3. Concerned Citizen says:

    Nicolas is there every day of the year including the cold, wet days, when she is a godsend to anglers, walkers and locals even though there is little money to be made. The other place is only open when there is the chance of lots of trade, so I reckon Nicolas is the most deserving of the opportunity to maximise income.

  4. Resident says:

    We need more entrepreneurs like Nicola in Penarth and the Vale. She’s obviously worked hard and succeeded for over a decade without selling ice cream, as per the terms of her contract. I can understand why she’s angry if another outlet has been allowed to sell ice cream, while she has to do without.
    What surprises me is that the council allow establishments like Cionis rust bucket to constantly disappoint and drive business away from Penarth while restricting the good people who’ll satisfy the locals and tourists.
    Good luck to Nicola, I hope one day the Vale see some sense!

  5. whatsoccurin says:

    Great article and comments-I suppose the “Sun” would just say “what’s all this Icy Bargy”-not in the League of the Glasgow Ice Cream wars but an interesting local issue. Traders in town often say that Independent traders are seen as “bottom of the pile” by the Council but Charity shops (often businesses benefiting from charitable status and volunteer labour) usually obtain whatever they request. Nicola is hard-working and always there for the community-her business has an impeccable 5 star hygiene rating whereas I am sure I recall the Pier used to have 3 stars but now seems to have removed the sign altogether (against regulations). in the light of the petitions the Council should reconsider.

  6. Mike Caplan says:

    She should be allowed to sell ice cream, customers should have a choice and as already said, she is there all year round, the only one who is. Should visitors only be allowed to buy ice cream when decks is open? i think not!

  7. Sick of the same old politicians says:

    As a child many years ago it used to frustrate the hell out of me that both units on the pier were shut most of the time. Would the council like Nicola to fail? Do they want to reward Decks for providing poor service by not opening up?
    Finally while we’re on the subject of Nicola is it true she is also unable to sell chips?
    Lets see a thriving seafront which encourages visitors and also provides local jobs.

    • Richard says:

      Yes its true she is not allowed to sell chips, beaurocratic nonsense or vested interests at work?

  8. Harry says:

    Fully agree that Nicola should be allowed to sell her ice cream, she is there throughout the year, and also agree that fail to understand why poor standards in Cioni’s are allowed to continue year after year, surely there must be a good-hearted solicitor in Penarth who would be prepared to take on Nicolas’s case on against the Council – come on solicitors of Penarth rally round!

  9. Ann Other says:

    The proprietor, Nicola, runs an excellent business and should be allowed to sell whatever she likes. What on earth has it got to do with local politicians, anyway? Surely, the only restriction should be a commercial one: that is, if two, three (or ninety-nine!) businesses can survive selling ice cream on the pier, so be it.

  10. Andrew Worsley says:

    Sounds a bit like corruption to me and to be honest infantile of the Council . Good job this pathetic body of people don’t run Blackpool Council half the Golden Mile would be shut down . They’d say it was too much competition is making holiday makers stay away.

  11. Ivor Bagman says:

    I scream
    And tear
    My hair
    Because of
    Council decisions !

  12. AK says:

    No ice cream, no Punch and Judy; the local politicians really need to get a grip and start dealing with things that matter.

    If there was a blanket ban on ice cream sales, I could see the point in continuing it, but to prevent one trader is wrong. Perhaps there is a ‘conflict of interest’ situation somewhere?

    Commercial pressure shoul decide who succeeds and who does not.

  13. Tom says:

    It seems a very strange thing to stipulate in such a location – no ice cream on a seafront is rather like a chip shop with no cod. Is the denial of obvious trade reflected in the amount of rent paid? Or is Nicola forking out top whack to be surrounded by people raking it in selling 99s and Fabs?

  14. Matt Smith says:

    Small town politics at it’s worst. Just give the lady her damn ice cream license already, summer is ending one day at a time and the benefits are literally for everyone; lower prices, better quality of ice cream, more choice, more income, more income for the town, more tax revenue for the nation, etc etc etc. Seriously, this is a joke.

  15. Andrew Worsley says:

    No its a Council who don’t know their backside from their elbow , banning ice cream sales from one trader but allowing it for others , do not be surprised at anything this Council does , and don’t get me started on their list of failings , seems the only job around that gets paid for ineptitude , apart from MPs that is.

  16. CelticMan says:

    Why but West Country ice cream from the Pier and of all places the dreadful Cioni’s. Tripadviser rate Cioni’s as the worst place in Penarth when Nicola used to be no.1 and is rate up there with the best. Support her and avoid the rest.

  17. Louise says:

    Nicola should be allowed to sell ice cream if she wants to. She is there every day of the year come rain or shine and has a consistent 5 star hygiene rating. I would prefer it if the Council would insist on local businesses selling Welsh ice cream and the pier pavilion should put some time and energy into providing decent service in their cafe before embarking on a knee jerk idea of an ice cream parlour.

  18. Martha says:

    Nicola runs a lovely shop – the kind of place which will embed itself in the memories of today’s children so that in years to come, when the pier has been turned into a skateboard park or a concrete look-out, they’ll say things like, ‘Do you remember that little place with the woman in the flowery apron, with photographs on the wall and tea and coffee and fairy lights at the window and pens and a Rupert Bear and popcorn in a cone?’
    Her shop is a memory-maker, she is a quality service on the pier. I hope everyone supports her and the Vale pulls its finger out and plays fair.

  19. jm says:

    I do wonder why decks (open about 30 days a year) and cioni’s (way way last its sell by date) are allowed permanent occupdation of civic amenities? decks must have a lease or tender from the council, and surely tbe expectation should be that it opens regularly.
    of course nicola should be able to sell ice cream.

    really slow service again today in the pier cafe too, by the way ….

  20. Martin Coffee says:

    I bet no traders have an ice cream ban in the Vale’s beloved Barry? It’s time to end all this discrimination against Penarth. Anything to put us down. Does anyone know why they hate us so much?

    • Tim says:

      They may have the nicest beach but Barry doesn’t have the gentrified provenance of Penarth and they – especially the Labour mob – can’t stand that. (The way people in Penarth behave sometimes, i.e. smug and sneering, I can see their point).
      Barry is as rough as a badger’s backside. Whatever they try to do to lift the place is thwarted – like the lights smashed on the walkway or the beach huts vandalised. It’s a great shame because it could be lovely but it is, and probably always will be, as rough as a badger’s backside – regardless of how many people, who “can’t afford Penarth prices” move there and strip their floorboards and have real fires.

  21. Kevin Mahoney says:

    Interestingly enough during my time on the planning committee councillors were repeatedly told by planning officers hearing applications, that there was no valid legal objection in planning law if someone wished to apply for permission to open another business which mirrored the same type of sales as others in the same locale.

    Meaning for example that if a street contained 5 newsagents then there was no legal planning objection that could be made to prevent someone putting in a successful application to open another one in close proximity however damaging that may be to both the existing businesses or the opening business in terms of diluting trade.

    So I wonder why the Vale have applied a different criteria here. Also, not knowing the whole story here has Nicola been given a valid reason as to why the pier pavilion has been allowed to sell ice cream products but not her own business?

    • Paul Fenton says:

      Very good comments Kevin. Perhaps it would be in Nicola’s interests to contact the CMA Competition & Markets Authority to see whether she has legally been dealt with fairly.

    • Ann Other says:

      This is exactly right. The local politicians have a PLANNING responsibility – a responsibility to decide what kinds of activities should occur where in a locality. They do not have any responsibility for BUSINESS decisions, for example how many newsagents or ice cream sellers there should be (once they have decided that selling stuff in area X is acceptable). They are not competent to make business decisions, as anyone who can remember the nationalised industries will know.

  22. Harry Herbert-Hyde says:

    I do not like ice cream so I will not be signing the petition. sorry.

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