Punting touters will now be restricted to “specified touting locations,” including Silver Street, the Trinity College frontage at Garret Hostel Lane, and Queens’ GreenLouis Ashworth

Cambridge City Council this week discussed new measures to tackle illegal punt touting in the city, approving proposals to limit the area in which companies can solicit business.

On Thursday, at a meeting of the City Council’s Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee, councillors were presented with a report examining the impact of last year’s Public Spaces Protection Order, introduced in response to complaints about nuisance punt touting. The report also recommended that several emendations be made to the order, to make it more rigorous. These were accepted by the Committee.

In September 2016, the introduction of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) by the City Council made advertising or soliciting custom for punting on the River Cam a criminal offence. Anyone in breach of the order could face a £75 fixed penalty notice. At the time, a council consultation found that 61% of respondents were in favour of a PSPO being implemented to tackle nuisance punt touting.

The report revealed that, since September 2016, there have been 60 fixed penalty notices for breach of the order, and 16 complaints of aggressive or rude touts. According to public complaints, large numbers of touts still operate on King’s Parade and around Great St Mary’s Church, “blocking the pavement and harassing the public”. The report stated that some punt companies are now using 16- and 17-year-olds to advertise their services in “hotspot” areas.


Mountain View

Boozey punt to launch on the Cam

The report said that there had been “some dissatisfaction from the public” regarding the order, after a perceived lack of enforcement meant that the number of punt touts in popular areas of the city had not significantly reduced. As the order only specifically prohibits verbal touting, employees of punting companies have attempted to avoid prosecution by adopting a variety of imaginative methods, including “carrying a clipboard directing people to places where they could book a trip and pay”.

In line with the report’s proposals, the area of the ban will now  be extended to take in a wider area of the city. Currently, the order covers the majority of the city centre, with the exception of “specified touting locations,” including Silver Street, the Trinity College frontage at Garret Hostel Lane, and Queens’ Green.

The City Council has also recently applied for a court injunction to stop unauthorised punt companies operating on council land near the River Cam.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Council, said:

“The injunction and further enforcement plans are essential given the evidence in the report of continued anti-social behaviour by punt touts and the escalating use of the public open spaces in the city.

“Our approach is proactive and positive and these proposals, together with our application to the High Court for an injunction to stop the unauthorised use of our land, will tackle a blight on our beautiful city.”