A family-run ice cream business say they are “heartbroken” after finding out they’ve lost their contract to serve customers at Danson Park.
South Londoners Stacey and husband Ossie run London Catering Services, supplying Bexley’s Danson Park with ice cream and treats for over 13 years, among other locations.
But earlier this month, they were told by Bexley Council they had been outbid for the contract so in just two weeks would have to leave the site behind.
For Stacey and Ossie, who say they’ve been serving ice creams in Danson Park longer than they’ve even had their daughter, the news has been “very upsetting.”
Bexley Council say they are grateful for the company’s “great service” in the last few years, but the bid did not score highly enough to win, and they “have a duty to ensure best value for our taxpayers.”
Stacey Pepperrell, who lives on the Greenwich/Bexley border in Avery Hill, told The News Shopper that it felt like they’d had everything “ripped from underneath us.”
The 40-year-old said they had offered the council the standard rise in rent after they put the contract out for tender, which happens every few years.
Last time, Stacey said, they had been told by the council that despite slightly higher bids, officials knew the local business were the best people to do the job, and because of their history in the area they were allowed to continue.
But this time, another firm has been chosen, and Stacey says the council have cruelly selected money over loyalty and community.
Noticeably upset, the Greenwich-based business owner said: “We’ve been trusted at Danson Park for so long, since April 2007, and always done a fantastic job, so you just think you’ll be okay.
“But on March 18, we were told we had two weeks until the contract ended. For me, I’ve been in Danson Park with the ice cream van longer than I’ve had my daughter, who’s in Year 8.
“It’s like one of my babies, and whilst we do have other sites and contracts, this is our livelihood.”
Stacey explained that in the first part of the tender process, they received 100% for quality, experience and environment. They had also been singled out for praise for their strict and safe Covid-19 practices.
“The council say they’ve done everything properly, and thank you for your service.
“It just feels like such an unfair way to run something, to take away a 13-year local contract after a higher bid. It feels like after everything we’ve put into it, we’re about to lose it all.”
A spokesperson for Bexley Council said: “We understand Mrs Pepperrell’s disappointment, but the bid submitted by London Catering Services Ltd did not score highly enough to win them the contract.
“We have written to explain this and are dealing with her complaints.
“The Council has a duty to ensure best value for our taxpayers. We cannot negotiate with any of those who tendered for the contract now that the process is complete.”
They added: “We would like to thank the company for the great service they provided to visitors to our parks over many years, particularly over the past year, when visitor numbers have been much higher than normal.”
Stacey added: “It’s been amazing working there for 13 years. We’ve made a lot of friends and people know us and trust us.
“We are real local residents, my daughter goes to school locally,
“We do offer more than just ice creams, it’s a service and a chat. Carers and their patients come by daily.”
Stacey has also launched a petition against the decision, and to try and “drum up some support,” and has received 500 signatures in a few days.