The City of Liverpool Cruise Terminal could be permitted to change the way it operates under proposals put forward for consultation by Shipping Minister Mike Penning today - potentially paving the way for passengers to start and end their voyages in the city.
Opened in 2007, the terminal was built with the help of grants from the North West Development Agency and the European Regional Development Fund. As there was deemed to be potential for unfair competition with other UK ports, operations at the terminal were restricted to cruises calling at the city as part of a longer trip and currently do not allow for cruises to start and end in the city. 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.
Shipping Minister Mike 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 £5.3 million 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.
Notes to editors
The City of Liverpool Cruise Terminal (CLCT) is owned by Liverpool City Council (LCC) and operated on its behalf by Peel Ports.
At present, CLCT is subject to a grant condition which precludes its use for “turnaround” operations: that is, the beginning and/or end of cruise voyages. It is thus limited to use for port of call cruises only.
This condition was set at the request of the Department for Transport in order to safeguard fair competition with other terminals that had not benefited from public subsidy, either at all, or at least in recent years. Previous requests to remove this condition (or more strictly, for DfT to remove its objection to so doing), without any offer of grant repayment, have been declined.
Grants awarded to the CLCT (which opened in 2007) were approximately as follows:
|North West Development Agency
|Single Regeneration Budget
|European Regional Development Fund
|Mersey Waterfront Regional Park
The proposed repayment is approximately £5.327 million, spread evenly over 15 years.
In proposing a staged repayment, Liverpool City Council requested that liability for repayments should cease in the event that turnaround use is terminated at some date within the 15-year period. The government is not minded to agree to this condition, because it feels this amounts to an element of risk-sharing that does not exist for non-subsidised ports.
The repayment will be to the Exchequer. Under the proposal, Liverpool City Council would not be required to repay ERDF funding to the Commission. However, the council would have to accept the risk of the commission demanding any additional repayment of grant on State Aids grounds.
The full consultation letter is available.
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