The ice-cream van proves a popular attraction on a sunny day at Bettystown.

Lottery for six beach casual trading permits

Council to allocate summer licences for ice-cream and food vendors

Ice cream lovers will once again be able to enjoy a 99 on Bettystown beach this summer with the news that casual traders will return to the seaside town for the upcoming season.

Meath County Council’s decision to allocate six trading licenses was confirmed at April’s Laytown/Bettystown municipal district council meeting last week.

The local authority’s plan to ban casual trading on the beach for the summer 2020 season due to coronavirus and social distancing restrictions caused disappointment among businesses who were hoping to win a spot on the famous beach last year.

Six coveted pitches will be up for grabs, three for ice-cream, two for food and one for beach goods with a draw by lot in place should applications be oversubscribed.

The online application process is now open. The closing date for completed forms is on or before 4pm on 28th April.

Under new regulations beach wardens will control access for traders with trading hours between 12pm and 6pm and additional litter requirements will need to be adhered to including all license holders being responsible for their litter with no extra bins provided by the council.

Candidates must provide a statement to demonstrate how they will ensure compliance with Covid-19 control measures.

Last week councillors voted to extend the ban on cars on the beach for a further six months.

A number of councillors highlighted the need for diversity among traders on the beach in terms of business types and models to give both long standing and new entrepreneurs a fair chance.

Labour councillor Elaine McGinty said: “A huge amount of innovation has taken place over Covid, people are transforming their businesses so these pitches, I believe are going to be in high demand and I would like to see variety.

Fianna Fail Cllr Stephen McKee emphasized the need to support local businesses in their attempt to find safe ways to trade this summer.

“We are looking ahead to an outdoor summer in terms of hospitality and dining we need to encourage as many people outdoors as possible this summer. As long as they are complying with Covid guidelines and keeping a safe distance that will be important in terms of public safety and good for traders themselves who employ local people, it’s important to have them back on the beach.”

Fine Gael Cllr Sharon Tolan said: “This time I would encourage our local businesses to apply for a licence, they have been rate-payers for a long time and they have been employing local staff and sometimes trade on the beach takes away from our businesses as well.”

A business owner who up until last summer traded on Bettystown Beach for over 40 years has welcomed the news.

Caroline Smith of Smith’s Ice Cream last year voiced her anger at the decision to ban casual trading on the beach for the summer 2020 season. She said:

“It’s really good news. It’s a lottery system, you apply, and you cross your fingers your name gets pulled out of a hat but at least it might give us something else because we have had a year with no events or private bookings, all we have had is street work and some casual trading work.

“I don’t know if it will be busy with no cars on the beach it will be a trial-and-error situation this year.”

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