In order to have a full understanding of what is happening with independent punting in Cambridge ideally you need to read all the pages on this site and all the supporting documentation. However, if you have neither the time or the inclination to do that then the information below, along with a synopsis of how things stand at the moment and some important background information should bring you up to speed fairly rapidly.
The information presented over the following pages is in reverse chronological order (most recent first) and covers events
since October 2007 in the lead up to the current situation.
October 2007 to 29th February 2008 | 1st March 2008 to 31st March 2008 | 1st April to 30th May 2008
Despite Cambridge City Council's insistence that they are acting in the interests of competition, not favouring the interests of any commercial punt operator over another (to do so would be illegal and an abuse of their powers as a local authority) and (in the words of Cllr Ian Nimmo-Smith, leader of the Cambridge City Council) a 'win-win situation' it is clear that their actions will at best penalise independent punt operators heavily and favour Scudamores Punt Company and at worst spell the end of independent punting in Cambridge.
15th October 2008
An accident waiting to happen
The final nails could well being hammered into the coffin of independent punting. The Cam Conservators have passed a byelaw prohibiting the use of the middle steps on Quayside by punters. This represents a change of approach from them when compared to their previous decisions not to get involved and leave it to the City Council to deal with the situation.
On Saturday an elderly couple fell into the river whilst attempting to disembark from a punt using the middle steps (see CEN article for more details) - whilst this is not the first time something like this has happened this year (I believe it is the third occasion) it is the first time that it has been widely reported. It remains to be seen what action will be taken and who is held liable. The irony of the situation is that it could be argued that Cambridge City Council forced independent punt operators to use the middle steps by stopping them using Jesus Green (a far safer place to load and unload punts). The further irony is that it would appear one of the City council's major concerns over the use of its land was the question of liability in the case of an accident. Yet here is an accident that never would have happened if the City council had allowed punters to continue using Jesus Green.
16th September 2008
It's all kicking off!
The Cambridge Evening News has finally started to catch up with and get interested in what's going on in the world of punting. Must have been a slow news day!
This article mentions the cameras on Jesus Green (that were removed quite some time ago) amongst other things. What is of interest is the recent vandalism to the middle steps on Quayside. We have spoken to sources who claim that a member of Scudamore's management was witnessed committing the act of vandalism with a hammer and chisel. Whether this was on orders from higher up or he was acting on his own volition is unclear. Either way it's a fairly stupid act.
Member of the public injured
In another incident a member of the public was injured after being knocked down in a scuffle between two rival independent punt operators. Both of whom operate from the La Mimosa punt station. One of these operators initially had his application turned down but was granted two spaces following an appeal to the City Council.
Out of court settlement?
Rumours abound of a possible out of court settlement between the City Council and Scudamore's in their court case over the attempted land grab on Quayside. On source suggested that Scudamore's might relinquish the Tyrrell's mooring to the City Council, although it's difficult to see what incentive they would have for doing this?
22nd August 2008
£Millions to be spent on Jesus Green
The council plan to spend a large sum of money on improving facilities on Jesus Green in an attempt to encourage people to use the park more. Where does the La Mimosa punt station fit into these plans? Further details can be found here: Jesus Green
16th August 2008
Not to gate
We can confirm that the Cam Conservators voted against installing a gate on the middle steps (at least for the foreseeable future). The decision was made to wait until the outcome of the court case between Scudamores and Cambridge City Council is known as this will establish the ownership of Quayside. It would be logical to conclude that should the City council win this court case the gate will be installed shortly after. Scudamores responded by attempting to block access by mooring punts in the way.
12th August 2008
To gate or not to gate
An unconfirmed source told us yesterday that there is now no chance of a gate being installed on the Quayside middle steps, at least for this season. However, another source contradicted this and suggested that it is imminent. We will attempt to corroborate this information as soon as possible.
10th August 2008
Rain stops play again
With no sign of a gate being installed yet on the middle steps on Quayside it has been down to the continuing bad weather to restrict the activities of all independent punt operators. Many are reporting a dramatic drop in income compared to previous years.
1st August 2008
The second (and larger) installment of fees for the tenants of the La Mimosa punt station is due in today. It is expected that all existing tenants will pay the money and continue to operate from the station.
Council employees were measuring the middle steps this morning. Presumably this is in preparation for the gate that is to be installed next Tuesday.
29th July 2008
Pack it in
The La Mimosa station tenants were summoned to meet with Cambridge City council officers and reprimanded for their continued attempts to make a success of the station by operating in a way that allowed them to earn a living. Apparently Scudamore's management have been lobbying the City council hard to have the La Mimosa tenants brought into line.
16th July 2008
Eyes wide shut
The two cctv cameras have gone from the old bowling green hut on Jesus Green. The cages and signs are still present. Maybe they've been taken away for cleaning?
15th July 2008
Same $%*£, different day
A number of the more seasoned punt touts complained about the proliferation of touts, especially newcomers, who could be witnessed touting as far up as the Round Church and outside the entrance to St John's college on St John's street.
9th July 2008
Singing in the rain
With around 3 weeks left until the next installment of fees is due to be paid by the La Mimosa independent punt operators the British weather is true to summer form, providing persistent rain. Not good for punting.
3rd July 2008
You have been served
Today former independent punt operator Tim Campbell received a formal notice from Cambridge City Council regarding "Unauthorised
use of land at Jesus Green, Cambridge" Somewhat suspiciously although the letter was posted yesterday (according to the postmark)
the date of the letter is the 23rd June 2008 and the alleged incident it refers to took place on the 21st June 2008.
It would be in keeping with the City council's previous efforts to pick one target to make an example of in the hope that this deters others and what better target to chose than the leader of the campaign to Save Independent Punting and someone who has been willing to question the dubious way that the whole process has been conducted.
29th June 2008
Independent punt operators using the La Mimosa landing stage continue to enjoy a lack of restriction on their activities, employing unregistered touts, touting anywhere on Quayside and as far up Bridge Street as the Round Church. It would appear the the City council have been persuaded to turn a blind eye to these activities until the 'rogue' independents operating from locations such as the middle steps and Jesus Green have been dealt with. At this rate the La Mimosa operators may stand a chance of making some profit before they are inevitably restricted to their touting zones. Scudamores continue to employ numerous touts and tout wherever they want to.
28th June 2008
Closing the gate
The word on the street is that the City council are planning to install gates on the middle steps on Quayside. These will be kept locked during the summer months and opened during the winter to allow access for barges and narrow boats - the types of vessel the steps were originally built for. The fact that the two pontoons moored on Quayside prevent any access for boats of this size appears to be irrelevant to the council...
22nd June 2008
Operation CrackdownTM II
Once again for the second Sunday in a row Alastair Roberts was seen patrolling in hi-vis attire. It would be interesting to know how much he gets paid for overtime...
21st June 2008
The British weather continues to conspire against punt operators as May week draws to an end
20th June 2008
More than a slap on the wrist?
Cambridge City council held a meeting with punt operators using the La Mimosa punt station and Scudamores. The main issue was the fact that the numbers of touts in the areas of Bridge Street and Quayside are still significantly higher than they expected. The La Mimosa station operators were told to keep their numbers in check or else. Scudamores were probably asked to keep their numbers down and no doubt told the council where they could stick that idea. After all, the City council have no powers to restrict Scudamores so what else did they expect? In recent weeks Scudamores have had up to 20 touts working from their Quayside station at weekends. Nice work Cambridge City council.
17th June 2008
Sign of the times?
Two small signs have been affixed to either side of the Quayside middle steps and also the steps adjacent to Tyrrell's pontoon (not the wooden stairs). The signs inform people it is not safe to board a punt from those locations. The signs are an indication of one of two things:
- The council can't stop people using the middle steps and wish to make sure they are not liable should anyone be injured whilst using them.
- The council will use health and safety legislation to stop punt operators using the middle steps on the grounds that they are dangerous
15th June 2008
Alastair Roberts and AN Other council offer were seen patrolling Jesus Green and Quayside on Suicide Sunday, presumably hoping to catch rogue independent punt operators red handed.
13th June 2008
A total of 7 independent punt operators have signed up to the La Mimosa punt station offered by the City council. One of those was initially refused but appealed against the decision.
2nd June 2008
Don't get your feet wet!
The promised pontoons that were supposed to be built for the La Mimosa punt station have been put on hold indefinitely. Once again Cambridge City council indicating exactly how much they are interested in investing in the future of independent punt operators in Cambridge.