Congestion caused problems on the River Cam during the 2015 Trinity May BallJorge Royan

Following punting restrictions introduced for Trinity May Ball last year, privately hired punts will be banned from an area of the River Cam near St John's College for the evening of the college's May Ball.

In a meeting held last week, Conservators of the River Cam, the statutory navigation authority for the river, elected to uphold restrictions introduced on punts for the night of the 2016 Trinity May Ball, and establish a similar arrangement with St John's College this year. Between 7pm and 11pm on the night of St John's May Ball, 20th June, punting around the college will be restricted to chauffeur punts only. This rule may be extended to other colleges if necessary.

A ban was implemented on private hire punts on the river around Trinity College for the evening of Trinity May Ball last year. The decision was taken following health and safety concerns about the 2015 Trinity May Ball, when the River Cam became severely congested as people in punts gathered to catch views of the famous Trinity fireworks.

There were complaints about drunken and disorderly behaviour, including people on boats throwing bottles into crowds of students on the river bank. Police officers were called to the ball to attend a disturbance on the river bank before the fireworks started, after a guard was attacked whilst attempting to remove a man from the grounds for trespassing.

John Adams, river manager from Conservators of the River Cam, told Varsity, “In 2016, at the request of Trinity, punting was restricted between certain hours linked to the firework display, to chauffeur punts only. This decision was taken on grounds of river safety and in 2016 the Trinity Ball fireworks passed off without incident."

He continued, “A similar request was received from Trinity [in 2017], for the restriction of punting around the time of the May Ball fireworks. Conservators agreed to this restriction and suggested that the St John's firework display should be covered by a similar restriction.

“This is a safety measure and should ensure that there is at least one person in control of the punt who is sober, who will be in a position to ensure the safety of others on the punt.”