Booze-selling punt may soon be open on the River Cam amid protest from locals

Lydia Willgress
The wide-beam punt, measuring 1.4 metres by 6.5 metres, would sell alcohol to tourists and locals in the summer months if the application is approved by Cambridge City Council - Christopher Pledger

The tranquility of one of Britain's most popular tourists spots, the River Cam, faces disruption after an application was put in for a giant floating bar. 

The wide-beam punt, measuring 1.4 metres by 6.5 metres, would sell alcohol to tourists and locals in the summer months if the application is approved by Cambridge City Council. 

[We think it] would encourage drinking in dangerous circumstances and would add to the disorganisation of punting

Dr Keith Carne, the bursar for King's College

But locals and staff at one of Cambridge University's oldest colleges have warned against allowing the plans, claiming it would encourage dangerous drinking. 

Dr Keith Carne, the bursar for King's College, which sits on the banks of the river, said in a letter to the council: "We think this would cause disruption on the river, would encourage drinking in dangerous circumstances and would add to the disorganisation of punting. We believe it is not appropriate to serve alcohol from the river."

John Adams, the river manager for navigation authority Conservators of the Cam, told the Cambridge News he was concerned about the "wine bar" because it might "disrupt the flow of traffic". 

Thousands of people head to the river every year to enjoy a trip on one of the flat-bottomed boats, which travel at around three kilometres an hour

People out punting on the River Cam in Cambridge Credit:  SWNS.com

Trouble on the river in the past has included heavy congestion, sunken punts, noise and vandalism. 

Applicant Carmel Williams said she hoped the punt, which would run from April 1 to October 31 and be open as late as 8pm on some days, would be popular in the area of the river known as The Backs.

Up to 13 people would be able to fit on the punt, which would be moored and also sell light refreshments.  She added: "Customers will be able to enjoy their drinks and refreshments on their own punt, which is then cleaned out by the tour company at the end of the allotted self-hire period."

The council's licensing sub-committee will meet on April 24 to decide whether or not to approve the application.

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