Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Taking a Punt

I like punting, and indeed take it very seriously as this picture demonstrates:

I've been looking into various issues related to punting, which plays an important role in tourism in the City, but has its problems. The Council is faced with nuisance issues from punt touts, and health and safety issues such as the serious incident recently reported in the CEN.

Independent punters claim these problems come about because the Council is making it hard for them to operate safely - see http://www.cambridgerivertour.com/developments.html. There are some complex issues involved, but generally speaking I think we need to have some sensible and well regulated competition in the Cambridge punting market. The City Council certainly seems to have it in for independent punters - and there was controversy at the last Strategy and Resources committee over the Council's use of CCTV cameras to monitor their activities on Jesus Green, where the City Council has banned them from operating. Despite partially concealed (if signposted) cameras, and the fact that the Council was aware of the identities of at least some of the people it was spying on, it maintains that the cameras weren't covert, and were directed at stopping unlawful activities not spying on individuals, so didn't need authorisation under the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. Dubious in my opinion, and certainly enough for me to conclude that a precautionary approach to compliance with RIPA was not followed in this case - I take back all I said about big brother is generally well behaved.
The issues surrounding punting in Cambridge aren't about to go away any time soon, and I'm not sure the behaviour of the Council is helping things.

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