“To allow the change of use would have an unfair and adverse effect on competition with other cruise ports.”
That was the verdict of the UK Government in 2009, after Liverpool asked for permission to operate turnaround cruises from its £20m new City of Liverpool Cruise Terminal (CLTC).
The terminal was funded entirely by grants from the European Union and the UK taxpayer. The money was given on the strict condition that it must not operate turnaround cruises, so the terminal couldn’t unfairly take business from private sector competitors.
Yet less than two years after it was opened Liverpool Council was applying to have the condition removed. Now, just 18 months after that application was resoundingly rejected, the council is back again with the same request.
This time they are offering to repay just £5m of the taxpayer grants and that over 15 years. What is not clear in their application is that, if successful, the authority has already ring-fenced a further £10m of public funds to pay towards a £23m baggage handling facility alongside the existing terminal. That would take the total public sector investment to £30m.
No one minds fair competition but The UK Cruise Port Alliance is adamant this is a total distortion of the marketplace.
Dockworkers and suppliers in Dover, Harwich, Tyne, Southampton and Portsmouth will see their taxes helping to take their jobs.
The UK Cruise Port Alliance is urging everyone connected with the UK cruise industry and anyone who just cares about fairness to sign-up and show the strength of feeling out there about Liverpool's plans.