The charity Beauchamp Lodge Settlement has been ordered to pay £3,330 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to operating a passenger vessel in London without a valid passenger certificate.
The vessel ‘Beauchamp’ is a barge operated by the charity as a floating classroom for children and young people. It can also be hired for events, such as parties and weddings, and is capable of carrying up to 80 passengers as it travels along the Grand Union Canal.
On 3 July, 2013, a Maritime and Coastguard Agency surveyor attended the vessel to conduct a survey and established that it had been operating since 26 January, 2013, without a valid passenger certificate, authorising its use as a passenger vessel.
The vessel had been used 67 times without a certificate, carrying young children on a number of occasions. A number of defects were found on the vessel when checked by the surveyor.
When interviewed, Simon Ryder, Chief Executive of the charity, admitted the vessel had been used without the certificate being in place. He was profoundly sorry for the situation, which he stated was an oversight by management, something that would not be repeated.
Mr Ryder appeared before Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court today (Thursday, 16 January) representing the charity, where he pleaded guilty on behalf of the charity.
In sentencing, the Court took into consideration his full cooperation with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in this matter, as well as his early guilty plea.
The charity was fined £300, ordered to pay costs of £3,000, along with a victim surcharge of £30.
In summing up, the District Judge said:
You did pose a real risk to passengers. The fact you are a charity does not exempt you from your obligations
Maritime and Coastguard Agency Surveyor Robert Shaw said:
It is essential that vessels used for the carriage of passengers are in a fit state to do so and carry the correct emergency equipment. Passenger vessel certification is the means by which such vessels are checked for safety. Operators have a duty to their passengers to ensure they operate safe vessels that have a valid passenger certificate.