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Are 16-year-old punt touts being told to sell tours in banned zones around Cambridge?

By Ben Comber

Punting on the River Cam
Punting on the River Cam

Teenagers are being used to flout the city's ban on punt touts, the council has claimed.

A year since a ban on touting in parts of the city came into force, the council said minors had been seen breaking the law.

The issue was revealed ahead of a meeting to discuss the effects the Public Service Protection Order (PSPO) has had on the punt trade. The council is building a case to make small alterations to the PSPO – it will recommend that the order continues with improved enforcement. The council will also consider increasing the enforcement area, which currently includes main thoroughfares in the historic core such as King’s Parade and Market Hill.

A city council report states that touts are generally unaware of the consequences of breaching the PSPO, which could result in a criminal record, and that operators are using 16- to 17-year-olds in hot spots, with adults operating in the legal tout zones.

Up to September 1 this year, 121 complaints, inquiries and observations about touting had been received by the council.

The report states: “The majority of the contacts were reporting the presence and number of touts in King’s Parade and around Great St Mary’s Church. Many of these included complaints about blocking the pavement and harassing the public.”

Of these complaints 16 were due to aggressive or rude touting. There were also 15 complaints about the perceived lack of enforcement of the PSPO.

There have been 60 fixed penalty notices issued to touts for breaching the PSPO, of which two were withdrawn and two are ongoing. The rest have been paid.

However, the report notes that the PSPO is not acting as an effective detterent to touts, stating that “generally they are prepared to breach the order and pay the fines”.

The committee, which meets on October 9, will also look at the injunction action under way which seeks to remove unauthorised punt companies from Garret Hostel Lane, which is city council-owned land.


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