Page last updated at 14:27 GMT, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 15:27 UK

New officer to stop punting rows

Complaints about punt touts have fallen dramatically in the last year

Aggressive ticket touts for punting companies have prompted Cambridge City Council to employ an enforcement officer to deal with them.

Over the past three years there have been 61 complaints to the city council.

Cambridgeshire police revealed earlier they also had to intervene in 30 disputes between touts in that period.

A council spokesman said issues surrounding touts had dropped since the introduction of an enforcement officer - from 40 in 2007 to nine this year.

Alistair Roberts, the city council's safer communities manager, said: "We have employed someone as an enforcement officer during the summer season.

"Largely people complain about the number of touts on the street but we have no power to control that.

"But they also complain about the touts' aggressive behaviour towards each other."

Ferry punts

He added that members of the public had reported being followed in the street.

He said the touts congregated mainly on Kings Parade and the Quayside.

In 2007 the council took action under a bylaw and prosecuted a ticket tout.

There are three or four large established punting companies in Cambridge and more than a dozen individuals owning between one and four punts.

According to the city council they are licensed by the Conservators of the River Cam who have a code of conduct but no powers to limit the number of punts on the river or prevent people from registering their craft.

Punting companies charge £10 per person per hour with smaller punts taking up to six people and the larger ferry punts carrying 12.

Cambridgeshire police revealed earlier this year that ticket touts had sabotaged each others' boats and been engaged in incidents involving knives.

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