Beauchamp barge floating classroom charity fined for running vessel without safety certificate

A charity that runs ‘floating classroom’ boat trips in London for schoolkids on the Regent’s Canal has admitted operating its vessel without a valid safety certificate for six months.

The ‘Beauchamp’ barge had been used 67 times carrying children between January and July last year without a certificate, a court heard.

A survey carried out by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency found the barge run by the Beauchamp Lodge Settlement had no valid certificate authorising it as a passenger vessel. A number of defects were found when checked.

The charity’s chief executive Simon Ryder admitted using the vessel without a certificate, which was put down to “a management oversight”. He pleaded guilty at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Thurs) on behalf of the charity.

The vessel posed “a real risk to passengers” and being a charity did not exempt them from its obligations, the District Judge said. The charity was fined £300 and ordered to pay £3,000 costs.

Maritime & Coastguard Agency surveyor Robert Shaw said after the hearing: “It is essential that passenger vessels are in a fit state and carry the correct emergency equipment. Operators have a duty to make sure they run safe vessels.”

The ‘Beauchamp’ carries up to 80 youngsters along the Grand Union and Regent’s canals and can be hired for events such as parties and weddings.

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The charity said later that the oversight had been corrected and the vessel was now fully operational with a passenger safety certificate.