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500 sign petition to save The Floating Cam Bar from enforcement action by Cambridge City Council

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More than 500 people have signed a petition to save The Floating Cam Bar, which faces enforcement action.

While the Pimm’s Bar has a licence to sell alcohol, the city council has said it does not have permission to sell the alcohol to people in Jesus Green, where it is based, as that is council-owned land.

The Floating Cam Bar. Picture: Derrell Dixson/Floating Cam Bar
The Floating Cam Bar. Picture: Derrell Dixson/Floating Cam Bar

The petition calling for an end to the enforcement action against the floating bar, known as the ‘Pimms Punt’, was launched in August and will be presented to councillors on the environment and community scrutiny committee today (October 7).

The council has also raised concerns over the bar potentially setting a “precedent for similar activities” on other council land, where businesses “will seek to use public land without consent”.

But the petition said: “The Floating Cam Bar, locally known as the ‘Pimm’s Punt’ has been working along the River Cam for nearly 10 years.

“Every year, we provide novelty, entertainment and refreshment to thousands of locals and visitors alike.

“Sadly, we are now being threatened with legal action from the council for trading.

“We very nearly went out of business during the pandemic. However, we were lucky to be saved by a government ‘bounce back loan’.

“We set ourselves to work last year applying for a new premises license which would allow us to serve you on land.

“Cambridge City Council granted us the licence, and so we then designed and built a brand new boat, which could bring some of our summer magic to people walking along the banks of the River.

“Finally, we applied to the Cam Conservators for a new river vending license for a boat which sells to the banks. We were really delighted when this too was granted.

“We launched the new boat on the first weekend out of lockdown 2021, and we were amazed by the response from locals, which was overwhelmingly positive.

“Unfortunately, we were visited almost immediately by Cambridge City Council enforcement, to demand we immediately stop trading.

“We have tried to engage several times with the council, but our emails and calls have gone unanswered.”

The city council has previously said that it expects any business “seeking to use, benefit or trade” from council land need to get permission first.

The authority added it had explained to the owner that having a licence to sell alcohol “is not the same as having a licence to sell it from somebody else’s land without permission”.

The petition organiser will be given five minutes to present it at the committee meeting. Councillors will then have up to 15 minutes to discuss the petition.

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