USING public money to fund a £21m turn-around cruise ship terminal in Liverpool is ‘absolutely wrong’, the UK Cruise Port Alliance has said.
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.
It used £20m of government and European money to pay for the terminal, sparking a protest that public money should not be used to give one city an unfair advantage over another.
Shipping Minister Mike Penning is expected to announce today that Liverpool will be given permission to become a cruise departure point, and will reveal whether any of the money will have to be returned.
The news has been met with outrage by the Southampton Port, which will be in direct competition with Liverpool.
Captain Jimmy Chestnutt, the Hampshire-based spokesman for the UKCPA, said: ‘Our position is quite clear: this government should not allow the change of use of that terminal unless the public money used to fund it is returned.
‘Using public money is absolutely wrong.’
Cpt Chestnutt said the UKCPA will wait and see what Mr Penning has to say before deciding its next move, which could include a legal challenge.
Martin Putman, Manager of Portsmouth International Port said: ‘We support the position of the Local Enterprise Partnership that the development of Liverpool Cruise Terminal should be funded using their own resources and not by being given a commercial advantage, though grant funding that was not intended to produce a turnaround facility.’