ICE cream vans are to be banned from outside all schools and nurseries in Hillingdon as part of a healthy eating drive.

The stifling new rules and regulations are also banning mobile ice cream vans from all town centres and High Streets.

Failure to observe the new rules could can ice cream traders with hefty fines - and the vans themselves could even be confiscated.

The council have cited a 'need to encourage healthier eating habits in children' as a reason for the crackdown, which it has describes as a 'tightening of rules' rather than an outright banning.

Pete Bhogal (pictured), 45, of Tachbrook Road, Cowley, has been an ice cream man for 26 years, taking over the family business from his father.

He said: "Ice cream is a dessert, its not unhealthy. An ice lolly is only unhealthy if you have three or four in one go.

"I go round to schools in the afternoon, the headteachers even invite me there.

"I have seen traders who have had their vans confiscated in Westminster for not observing the rules there, it costs £30-40,000 for a van, its not right, but then you have to observe the law.

"Rules and regulations make our work more challenging, and the recession has made it harder too, as people are more cautious with their money, but if the sun shines, I'll be out there, its a British tradition and they can't ban that."

It is not just the larger town centres such as Uxbridge, Ruislip and Hayes from which ice cream vans have been banned, but every High Street in the borough all the way from Harefield to Harlington.

The rules, which have already come into effect, apply to all secondary schools, primary schools, under five centres, day nurseries, and special schools.

The only options left, is for the customary jingle to ply its trade down residential side streets dodging in and out of parked cars.

A spokesperson for the Ice Cream Alliance last year warned how the traders it represents were being threatened with more and more red tape.

Kathy Sparks, deputy head of environment and consumer protection: "Hillingdon Council is not banning ice cream vans but is tightening rules on where they can stop and trade in light of ongoing complaints and concerns from residents and health organisations.

"Ice cream vans now need a licence to trade within the borough and a number of conditions of this licence will be in place.

"These include not trading outside schools where there is a local and national need to encourage healthier eating habits in children.

"The restrictions will also include town centres in a bid to ease congestion problems and respond to noise complaints that have been received."

A deserved crackdown or is it taking the flake? E-mail with your opinions.

Twister Ice Lolly: 76 calories
99 Flake Ice Cream: 180 calories
McDonalds Big Mac: 490 calories