Liverpool port fight escalates

editorial image

PRESSURE is mounting for the Government to reject plans to lift cruise terminal restrictions in Liverpool – which could cause job losses in Tyneside.

Liverpool City Council (LCC) has lobbied since 2010 to lift restrictions on the use of its cruise terminal.

The terminal was built with about £10m Government cash and a £9m European grant on the explicit condition it did not compete for turnaround cruise business with commercially-funded operations at places such as Port of Tyne.

After initially only proposing to pay back £5.3m, LCC has now offered to repay more of the UK grant in return for lifting of this condition and has pressed ahead with plans to host turnaround cruises – where ships start or finish a journey at a port – by granting planning permission for a temporary baggage handling and check-in facility.

Now it has emerged it has signed an agreement with a cruise operator to begin turnaround cruises next month.

North East MEP Martin Callanan said: “We are right to insist the strict state aid rules are applied in full. It would be wrong for the Government to base a decision on Liverpool entering into agreements with operators.”