Press release

Canal boat company fined after operating unlicensed vessels

A canal boat company has been ordered to pay £3,600 in fines and costs for operating passenger vessels without valid certificates.


A senior director of a canal boat company has today (14 March 2014) been ordered to pay £3,600 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to operating passenger vessels in North Yorkshire without valid passenger certificates.

Ian Clarke, and the company Pennine Cruisers Ltd, pleaded guilty to 4 charges.

Canal boats ‘Sam’ and ‘Leo’ operate on a section of the Leeds to Liverpool canal at Skipton and are authorised to carry no more than 12 passengers.

Carrying more than 12 passengers would require the vessels to be surveyed and issued with passenger certificates if they met the required safety standards.

On 31 July 2013 a Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) surveyor saw ‘Leo’ being operated with 13 passengers on board and the company was spoken to.

‘Sam’ was filmed operating with 13 passengers on board on 2 August 2013 while under the control of Mr Clarke.

These incidents occurred after the company had received several warnings from the MCA about carrying excess passengers.

When interviewed, Mr Clarke admitted the vessels had been used without the appropriate certificates. He also admitted this was after the company had been warned against it. He was sorry for the situation, which he said was not done deliberately.

In sentencing today (14 March 2014) at Skipton Magistrates’ Court, Mr Clarke’s full cooperation with the MCA as well as his early guilty plea was taken into account.

However, in summing up, the magistrate said:

You run a business carrying members of the public. You have exceeded your certificate and put the public at risk.

MCA surveyor Adam Jackson said:

Commercially operated vessels must be authorised to carry the number of passengers they are found to be carrying.

Where necessary, this would be following a survey to ensure the vessels are suitable and have the necessary safety equipment on board – as would be required in this case.

Operators have a duty to their passengers to ensure they run safe vessels that have a valid passenger certificate.

Details of the fines and costs:

Ian Clarke was fined £500 for both offences, made to pay £2,500 in costs plus a £100 surcharge.

There was no separate penalty for the company.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency press office

Outside these hours, for emergency press enquiries only please dial the above number. You will hear a message giving an out of hours pager number.

Published 14 March 2014