Council repays Pier Head grant

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The Queen Mary II visits Pier Head (c) CorkyWirral / Creative Commons/ Flickr

Liverpool City Council has repaid a multi-million pound grant used to make the Mersey a cruise ship terminal.

Already, £8.8m has been repaid to the Government after the Council used £9.2m of public money to build the Pier Head.

The grant had to be repaid after Southampton claimed it was unfair for Liverpool to receive grants when they, a rival port, did not.

Liverpool Executive Mayor Joe Anderson said: “We agreed to abide by the ruling of the independent arbiter and pay the money back, and that is exactly what we have done.

“As soon as the government gave us details of how they would like the payment to be made, we arranged for it to be settled promptly.”

Mayor Anderson added: “Liverpool has an unrivalled maritime history and we are now on the way to restoring our reputation as a leading cruise destination.

“For far too long holidaymakers in the north have had to travel to and from other places to start their journeys, and this is helping to return Liverpool to its rightful place as a major cruise port.”

Southampton are now lobbying for a £8.6m EU fund that Liverpool received to be paid back, as the original terms of the grant specified that the Pier Head Terminal would be used for stop-offs rather than “turnarounds”, which see cruise ships start and end their journeys on the river Mersey.

Liverpool Pier Head Cruise Terminal (c)WojtekGurak/CreativeCommons/Flickr

Councillor Richard Williams, leader of Southampton City Council, told the BBC: “While Liverpool City Council has paid back £8.8m to the government, we are not happy that they appear to be operating a turnaround port before a final decision has been made by the European Commission.

“We simply want Liverpool to play by the same competition rules as everyone else.”

A Liverpool City Council spokesman explained that due to the complexities of the EU’s ‘State Aid’ law, the outcome of the grant repayment decision could take ‘months’.

 

 

About Sam McDonnell, JMU Journalism