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Decision details

Walking Tours

Decision Maker: Executive Councillor for Transport and Community Safety

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


To consider the recommendations on walking tours in terms of frequency and scale.


Public Question

A member of the public made the following points:

i.  The report showed that the council was listening to residents’ concerns about walking tours.

ii.  Expressed interest in how the City Council planned to manage the tour coaches, parking locations and reduce visitor groups to a maximum of 20 people.

iii.  Requested a pilot study at Madingley P&R and Cambridge North rail station for range of coach-users: language school pupils, conference groups, tourists, school parties.

iv.  Recommendations to Executive Councillor:

a.  Point 2: Alongside the ongoing monitoring of the situation, would the council include a pilot study with the County using, eg Madingley P&R site for coach parking? 

b.  Point 4: It seems a little vague and non-committal to recommend a continued dialogue with the County when this has already commenced.  Will alternative parking locations to Queens Road as drop-off points be explored?


The Executive Councillor said a pilot study would be welcome. The County Council were responsible so the City Council would try to influence them.


The Safer Communities Manager said she had looked at the issue of walking tours from a community safety point of view. There was no evidence of safety issues, so this was more of a city centre management issue than a nuisance enforcement one.


The member of the public made the following supplementary points

i.  Sought a way to limit group numbers to 20, particularly groups from coach tours.

ii.  Facilities in the city centre would not be able to match those at a P&R site eg a ticket booth and timed visit slots.

iii.  The City Council could work with the County Council, but the City Council should take urgent action now for reasons of air quality and public safety.

iv.  Queried if points could be reported to the Head of Environmental Services to incorporate into the Tourism Strategy.


Matter for Decision

At the Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee of 27 June 2019, the Executive Councillor approved a recommendation to monitor the situation with regards to how walking tours were sold. Also to monitor the frequency of excessively large tour groups in the city centre, including on King’s Parade during the summer, by:

  i.  Advising coach companies and tour groups and other organisations hosting large visitor groups that the City Council supports a maximum of 20 people in any single group, and

  ii.  Reviewing the issue of walking tour groups and reporting to Committee in January 2020 if the problem of large walking tour groups persists, including considering the option of consulting on a Public Spaces Protection Order and other options to set a maximum tour group size if there is assessed to be a serious problem.


Following the approval of the recommendation, a Working Group was set up to look at possible solutions to the issues raised in relation to walking tours.  The Group included representation from the City Council’s Community Safety Team, Corporate Marketing, Streets and Open Spaces, Property Services, Legal Practice and (externally) Visit Cambridge and Beyond and Cambridge BID.


The Officer’s report detailed the actions considered by the Working Group and recommendations for the future.


Decision of Executive Councillor for Transport and Community Safety

Agreed to:

  i.  Officially request Visit Cambridge and Beyond to include the management of walking tours in the development of their Destination Management Plan (DMP).

  ii.  Approve the continuation of the monitoring of the sale and size of walking tours during the 2020 season in order to inform the development of the DMP.

  iii.  Continue the dialogue with the County Council to examine the possibilities of coach permit parking in the city to include conditions to limit the numbers in any tour group.

  iv.  Start a dialogue with the County Council to consider making park and ride sites more attractive to coach tours and to include incentives to direct groups from the sites to official walking tours of limited numbers.

  v.  Use the outcomes from the negotiations to inform the development of the DMP.


Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.


Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable.


Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Safer Communities Manager.


The Safer Communities Manager said the following in response to Members’ questions:

  i.  The issue of group size had been reviewed from a community safety point of view. There was no evidence of anti-social behaviour. The Working Group discussed the introduction of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) but considered this to be an inappropriate way to manage walking tours as the issues raised (such as the size and inconvenience caused by the tours) were unlikely to fit the criteria for the introduction of a PSPO. Also the Working Group believed it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to enforce.

  ii.  There was disagreement on the effectiveness of parking permits to control coach parking. The County Council said that permits were not respected. The Working Group said parking control would be respected. Officers would follow this up.

  iii.  Cambridge Ambassadors were asked to monitor walking tour group sizes during the tourist season, but this ceased when tourist numbers dropped out of season. Monitoring could resume in the new tourist season.

  iv.  A limit of 20 people in a group was set in-line with Blue Badge tour group size guidance.


The Head of Community Services said points from this discussion would be recorded in the meeting minutes and forwarded to the Head of Environmental Services (City Council) and Head of Tourism and City Centre Management (Tourist Information).


The Committee unanimously resolved to endorse the recommendations.


The Executive Councillor approved the recommendations.


Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted)

No conflicts of interest were declared by the Executive Councillor.

Publication date: 07/02/2020

Date of decision: 16/01/2020