Port petition handed over to ministers

A PETITION drawn up in the hope of protecting the Port of Tyne from a potential new rival has been handed in to government.

North East Conservative MEP Martin Callanan is calling on ministers to take notice of the petition, presented to 10 Downing Street last week.

Some 5,000 people and businesses have signed the petition expressing concerns about a move by Liverpool City Council to overturn a government decision banning the City of Liverpool Cruise Terminal’s use for turnaround calls.

The port was regenerated using £21m of public money on condition that it would only be used for day visits by cruise ships.

Mr Callanan and other objectors say the Liverpool port’s bid to attract more custom is unfair on other ports that have not received any public money, such as the Port of Tyne and Southampton.

Previous bids to change the status of the Liverpool terminal have been rejected, but Merseyside council is trying again and offering to pay back £5.3m over a 15-year period.

Mr Callanan said: “I urge ministers to take notice of this petition, which has the support of members of the public and businesses in the north east and throughout the country.

“What we all want to see is fairness and a level playing field – pure and simple.

“Liverpool City Council must understand that the condition was written into the agreement for a perfectly valid reason, which still applies. To tear it up now, without handing back every penny of public money, is totally unacceptable. ”