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Could the end be near for unauthorised punting on the River Cam?

Punt touts Cambridge. Picture Keith Heppell
Punt touts Cambridge. Picture Keith Heppell

A date has been set for a High Court hearing that could give the council powers to stop punting from Garret Hostel Lane.

Cambridge City Council is applying for an injunction to ban unauthorised punt businesses from using council-owned land.

It’s part of ongoing action by the council to reduce “the levels of nuisance related to the activities of city centre unauthorised punt operator businesses, as they seek to attract customers”

The hearing will take place in May and means that operators of punt stations such as those at Garrett Hostel Lane could face fines or prison time for doing so without the council’s approval.

The High Court confirmed the hearing on Friday (March 16), setting out in a written order that it will take place during a three day window from May 9, for an estimated two days.

The council says its riverside land, including land at Garret Hostel Lane, is being used by unauthorised operators which do not have planning permission or approval from the council or the Cam Conservators for punt operations.

The Cam Conservators are a navigation authority for the river with parliamentary powers and licenses the punt operators. James MacNaughton, operator of the river’s largest and oldest punting company, Scudamore’s, is the Cam Conservators’ deputy chair.

If the High Court grants the injunction, unauthorised use of the council’s land would be prohibited and anyone doing so could be found guilty of contempt of court.

The city council says unauthorised punt businesses operating from Garret Hostel Lane have started using a much larger pontoon for embarking and disembarking passengers that is now blocking the slipway.

A council spokesperson said: “We are pleased to have a date for this High Court hearing which we have applied for after exhausting other options.

“We are hopeful that the High Court will grant the injunction so that we can put a stop to the unauthorised use of council land by commercial punt operators.”

A statement says the council is committed to “improving the quality of the city centre experience for residents and visitors”.

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