Dear Mr Nimmo-Smith

Tim Campbell (leader of the Save Independent Punting campaign) writes to Cllr Ian Nimmo-Smith (leader of the council) and head of the Strategy and Resources Scrutiny committee.

No response has been received to date.

The restrictions

Picture courtesy of Google Earth

Despite their claims to be supportive and welcoming of competition, Scudamores continue to refuse to release the La Mimosa station and the City council start mentioning ever more ridiculous terms and conditions for the potential licensees, including a 10m exclusion zone originating at the top of Scudamores steps on Quayside. Independent punt operators would not be allowed within this exclusion zone. Just for clarification, here’s an image of what that means:

Anyone who has ever been to this part of Cambridge will realise immediately that the major footfall in the area comes from Bridge Street (running from bottom right across the bridge to top left).

The exclusion zone would ensure that all but a very small amount of business goes straight to Scudamores. Hardly encouraging competition.

Council officer clashes with punt operator

During the encounter, a council officer (who did not identify himself) approached an independent punt operator who was in the process of dealing with some customers. The council officer told the independent punt operator that what he was doing was dangerous (loading customers onto a punt from Quayside) and that he (the council officer) would be shutting down independent punt operators. Asked when this would be, he said that he knew but that he wasn’t going to divulge the information.

A telephone call later that afternoon to the Cambridge City Council revealed that the council officer in question was Alastair Roberts, one of the council officers supposedly charged with providing independent punt operators with somewhere to operate from…

There then followed a series of emails between the two, with the council as usual being unwilling to divulge any real information.

Any Day Now…

After consulting with the City Council’s property department it was decided that a meeting be held on the 12th February. The intention of the meeting was to consult on plans for the independent “La Mimosa” punt station.

The meeting was with Alastair Roberts and Phil Doggett from the council and 5 independent punt operators.

At the meeting it quickly became clear that the number one concern for independents is that the station may not be available in time and they will lose their livelihoods. To paraphrase the response given “vacant possession should be established within 2-3 days”.

Leader Doesn’t Listen

The final meeting of interest was “Strategy and Resources Scrutiny 2” held on 8th February 2008.

At this meeting the leader was asked to consider “Punt Operation in the City of Cambridge” that recommended the commencement of enforcement action on the use of Jesus Green.

Again several of the independents got together and wrote letters for the consideration of the committee, and also instructed a solicitor to outline the competition act concerns of the plan. The leader did not listen and endorsed the recommendations.