Portsmouth in uproar after popular ice cream man is turfed off his plot after 40 years

FURIOUS city residents are in uproar over a council’s decision to boot a popular ice cream man from his prized pitch and have today demanded: ‘Leave him alone.’

By Sophie Lewis
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 4:55 am
Pictured: Graham Penrose with his ice cream van at Portsdown Hill, Portsmouth 
Picture: Habibur Rahman
Pictured: Graham Penrose with his ice cream van at Portsdown Hill, Portsmouth Picture: Habibur Rahman

Graham Penrose has spent 40 years selling at The Viewpoint in Portsdown Hill, starting when he was just 23.

But despite being a staple in the city for decades, Mr Penrose has been frozen out from remaining at his beloved pitch, after being outbid during a recent tender process.

The businessman had offered to pay Portsmouth City Council, who are the renters, £350 a month more than what he is currently charged – but it was not enough.

Pictured: Graham Penrose with his ice cream van at Portsdown Hill, Portsmouth Picture: Habibur Rahman

The council then asked him to sign a contract for an extra three months because the new owner was not ready to take over until October.

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Although Graham considered staying for an extra two months rather than three, he has decided not to sign the contract.

He said: ‘They are taking the mick out of me. I am just keeping the bed warm for someone who is going to be taking all of my trade.

Graham Penrose giving Bradley Tollhurst 12 an ice cream at Portsdown Hill, Portsmouth on July 27, 2021 Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘I have offered £350 a month more and if that is not enough, what more do they want?’

The man from Cosham has sold over £3m worth of ice creams after working for an ice cream agent for Verrecchia for 30 years, where he then bought the van and continued for another decade.

Graham said: ‘I don’t care that they have given it to someone else, I just don’t like the fact they have said he is not up and running.’

News of Mr Penrose’s plight enraged readers across Portsmouth, with hundred taking to social media, to vent their fury on The News’s Facebook page.

Karen Flux added: ‘Leave our ice cream man alone.’

Charlotte Sparey added: ‘How very sad. I've known him all my life being up the hill.

‘Sad that it comes down to money and a bid, rather than respecting and being loyal to a man who's been there over 40 years.’

In a letter to The News, Julie Bulmer said: ‘This has been up to now a favourite spot for me and my family to enjoy ice cream and the view, come rain or shine.

‘I think Portsmouth council have treated Graham in a very shoddy way.

‘I think their decision to award the tender to another company, one that isn’t even ready, is very short-sighted, whatever happened to loyalty to local businesses?

‘I shall be buying my ice cream elsewhere in future.’

Chris Ward, director of finance and resources at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘We do all we can to work with and support local businesses but ultimately we have a responsibility to all residents, and an obligation in law, to make sure we get best value for money.

‘These sites generate income which is used to support the delivery of council services across the city. Legally, and to ensure that all businesses have the same opportunities, we have to advertise these sites and evaluate all bids on a fair basis, on this occasion a new company made the best offer.

‘However, to ease the impact on Mr Penrose we were able to reach an agreement to give him more than three months extra trading so he could benefit from the busy summer period.’