Cambridge City Council are proposing new regulations for city centre punting touts following high volumes of complaints from businesses and residents describing them as ‘annoying’.
The plan includes a new ‘kite mark’ for punting companies which limits the distribution of commercial punt licenses to only those businesses operating from six punt stations at Granta Mill Pond, Mill Pit west, Mill Pit east, Trinity College frontage, Quayside and La Mimosa. The council has also drawn up advisory guidelines for touts when dealing with the public.
Legislation so far has been ineffectual as little can be done unless a tout displays anti-social behaviour. A survey carried out in the summer of 2011 by the tourism website Visit Cambridge found that an average of 23 touts could be operating in the central tourist locations of Cambridge at any one time.
“It is certainly annoying being stopped several times on your way to lectures, especially when you’re in a hurry”, says Alice Bucker, a first year Natural Scientist from Trinity Hall. “Although they are never rude, the touts can be very persistent in their attempts to compete against each other and it can become a nuisance”.
Lawrence Austen, who owns Granta Punt Hire, when speaking to the BBC argued that the new proposals will improve the punting industry in Cambridge; “We recognise the commitment of the code in that it promotes Cambridge in a positive way”.