'Bowbelle' decisions get mixed reception

FAMILIES of the 51 people who died in the Marchioness pleasure boat tragedy in 1989 yesterday welcomed an announcement that the dredger Bowbelle, which collided with it, had been banned from the Thames.

Relatives were 'extremely disappointed', however, by a rejection by John MacGregor, the Secretary of State for Transport, of a recommendation by an independent inquiry into river safety for a review of rescue arrangements and equipment on the Thames.

The inquiry, set up because of the disaster, was critical of the Department of Transport, saying that it 'lacked the vision and drive to lead the river marine industry into accepting that high safety standards and commercial success were compatible'.

Lord Caithness, the Minister for Aviation and Shipping, disclosed at a meeting with relatives after publication of the report that a prohibition order had been served on the Bowbelle earlier this year because visibility from its bridge did not meet merchant shipping regulations.

The Bowbelle's sister vessel, the Bow Trader, had since been voluntarily withdrawn from the Thames by its owner, he said.

Patrick Allen of the Marchioness Solicitors' Steering Group said: 'We have been saying for a long time that it was too dangerous to allow boats like the Bowbelle, which cannot see forward properly, to sail on the Thames.'

The inquiry, headed by John Hayes, secretary general of the Law Society, made 22 recommendations including more spot checks on vessels, the recruitment of more safety specialists by the Department of Transport and the introduction of breath tests for skippers and crews.

The report called on the department to 'take a much higher profile in promoting safety among a variety of fragmented operators and regulators'.

Mr MacGregor said that the further review recommended by the inquiry would not be justified, but added: 'Action is, however, being taken to ensure that the lessons from the Marchioness disaster have been fully assimilated.' He said that the report's recommendations were being carefully considered.

He was establishing a series of district marine safety committees throughout the country which would review for each area the way in which responsibilities for safety, rescue and accident prevention were distributed.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Head of Content and PR

£35000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Mid / Senior

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing digital agenc...

Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Partnerships Manager

£50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a newly-created partne...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Co-Ordinator - FF&E

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior FF&E Project Co-ordinator is re...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor