Consultation underway on Liverpool cruise terminal

The cruise terminal in Liverpool could be permitted to change the way it operates under proposals put forward for consultation by Shipping Minister Mike Penning on Thursday.

Opening in 2007, the terminal was built with grants from the North West Development Agency, of £7.16m, and the European Regional Development Fund, which contributed £8.62m.

The cruise terminal is owned by Liverpool City Council and operated on its behalf by Peel Ports.

At present, the cruise terminal is subject to a grant condition from the Department for Transport which precludes its use for "turnaround" operations, meaning it currently does not allow for cruises to start and end in the city. The cruise terminal is limited to use for port of call cruises only.

The condition was set at the request of the Department for Transport in order to safeguard fair competition with other terminals in the UK that had not benefited from public subsidy, either at all, or at least in recent years.

Operations at the cruise terminal in Liverpool were restricted to cruises calling at the city as part of a longer trip.

Last month, Liverpool City Council put forward proposals for a partial repayment of this public subsidy in return for a lifting of these restrictions. The Government is now consulting on a potential way forward based on these proposals.

Penning said: "Liverpool has a rich maritime heritage spanning many centuries, and I am keen to see that continue. However, I have been clear throughout this process that I am equally committed to ensuring fair competition across all UK ports. That is why I am pleased that Liverpool City Council have come forward with proposals which recognise this.

"However it is also important to hear the views of other interested parties, which is why I am launching a 10-week consultation. Once this period is over, I will consider carefully any comments I have received before making a final decision."

The proposals put forward by Liverpool City Council include a repayment of £5.3m spread evenly over 15 years. A targeted consultation of port operators and other interested parties will now take place until 15 September.

A final decision on whether to approve Liverpool City Council's application is expected early in the new Parliamentary year.

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Liverpool businesses and public agencies are obviously finding it a challenge to adjust to life without the regime of generous government grants and incentives that have propped up Merseyside’s economy over the last 60 years. This particular grant should be repaid, in full and in a single lump sum. For too long, government largesse and insidious ‘regionalism’ applied in Merseyside in so many different and varied forms has had the effect of unfairly promoting Liverpudlian interests and undermining more naturally resilient economies elsewhere.

By Anon

Interesting if inaccurate view of the presumably recent history of Merseyside, Anon. The resilience and economic effort of the people sustained the economy of the city for many a year. There is nothing natural about economies: they are not the weather. The idea of government largesse is frankly laughable to all but the historically illiterate.

By Dave

As we have just had the third busiest estuary in the UK, Liverpool, lose its coastguard station and the City of Liverpool lose 22% of its grants from central government, the largest of any authority in the UK, I think commentators should check their facts before spouting off.

By Harry

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