THE sound of a popular classic like Greensleeves being played (or rather murdered!) in electronic tones at twice its normal speed means only one thing to most of the public.

There is likely to be an ice cream van in the vicinity, usually slowly moving through the avenues of a housing estate like a Pied Piper hoping to lure children from their gardens and homes clutching coins begged from parents.

But if you live in Rossendale it looks like this peculiarly British institution is going to have to undergo a radical makeover if it is to remain in business.

The council has signed up to a ‘code of practice’ which means vans will only be allowed to sound chimes for a maximum of four seconds every three minutes and must remain totally silent when within 50 metres of hospitals, places of worship or schools during lesson times.

A council official said the Government-approved code, which also bans chimes before noon or after 7pm is intended to stop ice cream vans “becoming a serious nuisance in residential areas”.

It is true there was a time in Glasgow in the 1980s when that city’s so called ‘Ice Cream Wars’ led to daily violence and intimidation and even deaths by arson as rival operators had a turf war which was also said to involve the sale of drugs from vans.

But there’s no suggestion of anything remotely resembling that in Rossendale.

It’s also true that for some parents the sound of ice cream van chimes is irritating because of the instant pleas for cash they provoke from children.

But there are many, many things far more annoying in Rossendale and throughout East Lancashire that push this subject far down the priority list for the attention of councils.

Vandalism, for example, damages our environment every hour of the day far more than a passing visit by an ice cream van.

And if noise pollution is the problem, what about all the cars with loud exhausts and deafening sound systems that cruise our streets belting out bass notes that rattle our windows.

I also understood that laws should not be introduced unless they can be properly enforced. Police are stretched to the limit chasing burglars, violent yobs and the like without this nonsense.

And if councils like Rossendale actually have officers available to hide behind trees and record “offensive” ice cream chimes I for one would like to see them redeployed to more useful work or better still sacked.

The salaries saved could be diverted to help keep bus services on the road, which are vital for the elderly.

Apart from being a stupid waste of time there is actually no reason why ice cream vans cannot carry on advertising their presence without anyone over the age of about 30 being the slightest bit put out.

All they need to do is to keep playing the chimes but pitched at a high frequency so they will only be heard by the youngsters they are seeking to attract. Problem solved!