Fight to safeguard Tyne port continues turnarounds

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GOVERNMENT officials are being urged not to allow a bid to boost tourism in Liverpool for fear it could cost hundreds of jobs in North Tyneside.

North east MEP Martin Callanan and North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon are keeping up the fight to protect the interests of the Port of Tyne’s North Shields ferry in the face of potential competition from Liverpool’s cruise terminal.

Liverpool City Council is still lobbying ministers to lift restrictions on the use of its terminal, built using £10m from the UK government and a £9m grant from the European Union.

The Merseyside authority was given that grant aid on condition that the terminal did not go into competition with commercial ports for custom from ferries carrying cruise passengers.

Liverpool City Council initially proposed to only pay back £5.3m but is now offering to repay more in return for lifting the condition.

It has also been reported that it has signed a deal with a cruise ship operator despite not yet securing approval from the government or EU.

Mr Callanan said: “Liverpool City Council is trying to use every trick in the book to bully the government into rushing through this decision in their favour.

“The government has not announced the results of its independent review of how much UK grant the council should repay, nor released details of the state aid clearance application to the European Commission.

“It is thoroughly inappropriate and irresponsible for Liverpool to steam ahead into agreements with operators and begin upgrading their facility. It would be completely wrong for the government to base a decision on Liverpool prematurely entering into agreements with operators.

“It cannot be right that the Port of Tyne and others have worked tirelessly to build up their industries while Liverpool works tirelessly to tear up an agreement it happily entered into, simply because it is no longer convenient.”

Mrs Glindon has also repeatedly raised the issue in Parliament.