Belfast Telegraph

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Time to tell bus tours to get on their bike

By Robert McNeill

Like many upstanding citizens, I've been stopped in Belfast city centre by enthusiastic people - a source of alarm at the best of times - trying to force me onto a bus tour.

They're persistent, and you could imagine a flustered citizen saying: "Well, I was going in to see my dying mother, then I'd an important appointment with the bank - and, oh yes, there's the job interview to consider - but, what the hey, I'll take a bus tour."

That said, I've been on a couple, and they're generally very good.

On one, the guide began by saying: "Good morning, everyone.

"We should be under way shortly - as soon as the driver has sobered up."

However, there've been complaints about tour ticket-sellers being a tad in-your-face. Top complainers had hoped that the practice could be stopped and were disappointed when Belfast City Council's licensing committee granted applications for two new street-stalls.

But, as the wise councillors averred, it's not stall-holders who are the problem (after all, you have to approach a stall; it doesn't approach you), but 'hustlers' who shimmy forth to buttonhole unwary punters.

Civil liberties campaigners objected to plans for stall-holders to be attached to their stalls by a lead, thus preventing sallies forth. But it's clearly the best solution.

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