CAMBRIDGE City Council is consulting on whether a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) – which restricts punting operators from approaching passers-by to sell punt tours (‘touting’) – should be renewed, changed, or allowed to expire when it is due to end on 14 September 2023.
The current PSPO was created in 2016 following complaints about the behaviour of punt touts across the city, and designates much of the city centre as restricted areas where punt touting is prohibited.
PSPOs were created to deal with problems in public spaces which have a negative impact on the local community’s quality of life. A PSPO does this by stopping certain activities in the area it covers. If someone refuses to stop doing the activity covered by the PSPO it is a criminal offence and they will be fined £75.
At the same time as the PSPO was created, the council encouraged authorised punt tour operators to sign up to a new voluntary code of practice which limits touting to areas next to where their business operates from on the river – as opposed to touting in any location across the city. The majority of local operators have signed up to this.
The PSPO has been renewed twice since 2016 but is due to end on 14 September 2023. The council must decide before this date whether the PSPO should be renewed, changed or allowed to expire.
- To renew the PSPO, the council would need to show that there is significant evidence that punt touting within the current Restricted Areas would become problematic without the order.
- To change the PSPO, the council would need to show that there is evidence to support changing the Restricted Areas, or that there are other behaviours that the PSPO should prohibit.
- To end the PSPO, the council needs to consult on the impact that this might have, and consider whether this impact can be managed in other ways.
Cllr Alice Gilderdale, Executive Councillor for Recovery, Employment and Community Safety, said: “It’s good news that the situation with punt touting has improved enormously since 2016 when the PSPO was introduced. It’s important that residents and visitors can enjoy our beautiful city without being hassled, while also making sure punting companies are able to advertise in an appropriate way. In order to do this, we want to hear residents’ views on our options going forward, and I encourage everyone to look through the consultation and share any thoughts and feedback you have.”
The consultation is open for comments until Sunday 4 June 2023. Have your say on the council’s consultation platform. The results of the consultation will be considered at the Environment & Community Scrutiny Committee on 29 June 2023.