HAMPSHIRE campaigners have welcomed the government’s decision not to allow Liverpool the right to become a popular cruise destination.
The city had wanted to become a point of departure and arrival for liners – making it a direct threat to Portsmouth’s own growing reputation as a start and end point for cruises.
But yesterday the Department for Transport rejected Liverpool City Council’s proposal to refund only £5.3m of the £9.2m grant it received to build its stop-off cruise terminal.
Port officials at Portsmouth and Southampton complained that it was unfair competition.
While the decision is a victory for campaigners, the door is still open for Liverpool to be a cruise destination – but it will require a bigger payback to the government.
Jimmy Chestnutt, chairman of the United Kingdom Cruise Port Alliance, a group of concerned businesspeople from port cities, said ‘any subsidy is a subsidy too far’.
‘Protesters from cruise ports across the country, including Hampshire Chamber of Commerce representing Southampton and Portsmouth, will be delighted to hear the government now agrees that the proposal as it stands is unfair and damaging to the cruise industry.
‘However, we believe the industry should be run on a commercial basis and that there is no place for public subsidy of any kind. So we are concerned that this simple principle has still not been accepted.’