Boats Sunk As Punt Wars Resume

Thugs have used concrete to sink two punts worth £10,000, raising fears of an escalating ”turf war” between rival operators.

Saboteurs have used concrete to sink two ferry punts worth £10,000 in Cambridge raising fears of an escalating ”turf war” between rival operators.

Yobs cut through chains securing the two 12ft long punts on the River Cam before filling them with concrete and gravel.

The two 12-seater punts belonging to Nick Maseychick, of the Cambridge Punting Company, were found trashed in picturesque Mill Pond on Monday morning.

Tit-for-tat attacks have been reported as rival companies compete for the summer tourist trade in the industry worth around £6million each year.

Violence and intimidation has raged on the river over the past three years including knife threats and a customer received a broken hip after a dispute between touts.

Last year two ferry punts belonging to The Punting Company were sliced in half with an electric saw causing £10,000 damage.

There have been 151 punt crimes over the past three years and Cambridge City Council has employed ”enforcement officers” to tackle the turf wars.

Mr Maseychick said: ”It was a proper job. I don’t think this one was done by your ordinary vandal.

”One boat was filled up with concrete bits and gravel and the other was upside down in the water.

”Whoever has done this must be deranged to go out in the night and do this.

”The worry is that this foolish act could lead to other people doing equally stupid things and it could end up becoming a tit-for-tat escalation in reprisals.”

Louts sunk one punt with gravel and concrete and the second one was found capsized.

The craft, costing £5,000 each which can net up to £160 an hour on hire, have been hauled from the river and being assessed for damage.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZOgEEaMg7E

The trailer for a documentary about the escalating punt wars in recent years.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Constabulary said: ”We were called at about 11.33am to reports of two boats having been stolen from La Mimosa in Jesus Green and taken to Mill Pond, where they were sunk using lumps of concrete.

”The chains securing the punts were cut through and holes were punched into the bottom of the boats.”

In recent years punting ”joyriders” have stolen crafts to race them along the river and then dumped them.

Gangs of teenagers have attacked punters throwing missiles from bridges and dive-bombing the river.

There have been knife threats, mugs of tea thrown and one tout grabbing another by the throat.

A nurse suffered a broken hip when she was knocked to the ground during a tussle between two competing touts.

In 2005 a bylaw was introduced to control how people in Cambridge market their services.

Pushy touts have been accused of tarnishing the city’s reputation and image as a tourist hub clashed in King’s Parade, Market Street and Trinity Street after being moved from Quayside.

Cambridge City Council has spent £10,000 on a trio of punting enforcement officers wearing hi-visibility jackets to police the city.

Punting is one of the most popular attractions to Britain and at peak times there are more than 200 punts on the River Cam carrying up to 12 people each time

A chauffeured punting tour lasting one hour costs £12 per person or £80 for self-hire for the whole day.

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