Liverpool Lib Dems finance spokesperson Cllr Andrew Makinson has questioned the decision of the Council to proceed with the building of the new Cruise Liner Terminal at a time when there is a huge uncertainty about the future of the entire cruising industry.
Speaking at last nights Audit Committee of Liverpool City Council Cllr Makinson said, “It is good to see to a full review of the capital programme is being carried out to examine the Covid-19 impact on scheme deliverability. However, this decision makes subsequent decision to to introduce an extra £5.5 million for the Cruise Liner Terminal into this year’s capital programme even more questionable.
Cruise companies like CMV who were the first to return to Liverpool have gone into administration.
Carnival, the biggest cruise company who own the famous Cunard Line have had their credit rating downgraded to junk bond status and was last month described as ‘sailing close to bankruptcy.
Other cruise line companies have submitted accounts and financial warnings that show that there are substantial doubts about their future.
The American cruise industry as a whole is saying that in coming years and possibly permanently what remains of the industry will concentrate on American based cruising and the Caribbean.
A year ago, this seemed to be, in financial terms, a reasonable gamble on a profitable and growing industry. Now its is absolutely clear that we will be fighting for a share of a substantially smaller cake.
When I asked last night whether or not a full risk appraisal had been done on this bid before it was put before the Government as part of the Liverpool Recovery Programme. If so we need to see it. If not then it needs to be undertaken before we risk local and national taxpayer’s cash.
If an independent appraisal shows that this will still be viable post-Covid then we will continue to support the proposal”
However, I think that the problem is bigger than this one project. Here we have the Mayor of Liverpool managing to keep his fingers crossed on a doubtful project whilst simultaneously sticking them in his ears so that he cannot hear the real concerns which abound on this issue. This is true of the whole of the so-called Liverpool Recovery Plan. In the whole of this plan the Council is failing to understand that the things we need to invest in post-Covid are different from the ones that that we thought that we should invest in pre-Covid.
That does not mean, in any way that everything in the Plan is wrong but nothing in the Plan has been tested post-Covid. The Lib Dem group has called in the Recovery Plan to appear before the Regeneration Committee. For the first time in the 20 years since the ‘call in’ system has been in existence our call in request has not been sent either to a special select committee or, if a Select Committee was coming up anyway, to the next normal select committee.
In this case the ‘normal’ committee is next week but it is being sued for one item only. A new normal committee will be called sometime in September to look at the Plan call in and other items. This will be about 3 months after the plan was published in Mid-June. There are only two assumptions that I can make:
- That the Council are now doing the detailed investigations needed for the spending of a mere £1.2 billion; or
- They are delaying it for as long as possible in the hope that the Government will send a few scraps our way to justify the Plan (which is not to be confused – or is it – with the Liverpool City Regional Recovery Plan for 2 billion+)
Both the City Region Plan and the City Plan are based on shovel ready schemes that were drawn up before Covid struck. They take no account of the desire of the businesses and people of the City for a ‘new’ normal which is healthier and more family friendly. The Council and City Region need to undertake a full review of all proposals that they have submitted rather than bunging applications in and hoping for the best!