Toddler’s finger crushed by punts

Alice Gormley - Deputy News Editor 6 October 2011

In the latest in a series of incidents on the Cam, an 18 month old child’s finger was crushed, prompting authorities to announce controversial solutions.

With temperatures in Cambridge soaring above 29 degrees Celsius, and approximately 4,000 new students starting undergraduate study this week, congestion levels on the river have been high.

The grisly accident, which saw the toddler rushed to Addenbrookes Hospital to undergo corrective surgery, happened amidst complaints that congestion and crime on the Cam have reached an unacceptable level.

With 151 punt related crimes reported between 2007 and 2011 and 40 illegal touts known to be targeting tourists, authorities are keen to temper the brewing issue.

Responsive measures, introduced by Cam Conservators, centre on the banning of illegal punt operators from using Cambridge’s Garret Hostel Lane in an effort to ease overcrowding on the river.

Cam Conservators have also listed six stations from which licensed punters and established companies only are permitted to operate, including Granta Mill Pond, Mill Pit West and Mill Pit East, Trinity College, Quayside and La Mimosa. Intentions to install a river bailiff have also been voiced.

Pippa Noon, spokesperson for Cam Conservators, fully backs the approach, presenting the toddler incident as one of multiple grievances and stressing that the measures are a last resort. She remarked that the conservators “looked at the full range of accidents, incidents and near-misses in the consideration of safety issues along the Backs,” prior to the committee meeting.

Others are unconvinced by the approach, the potential loss of around 50 jobs cited as a main concern. Some claim the increasingly high demand for punting tours necessitates additional work. Independent punter Niall Trask warned of “pandemonium” were the measures to go through. Trade, too, has been cited as likely to suffer. Eddie Latham, of University River Tours, echoed this fear in Cambridge News, commenting that the move would “damage the city’s economy”.

Alice Gormley – Deputy News Editor