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Isle of Man Government Vote to Buy a Bit of Liverpool

22nd July 2016
Plan of the proposed Liverpool ferry berth at Princes Half Tide Dock which would replace existing Isle of Man ferry terminal at Liverpool Landing Stage. This berth is located almost opposite of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the famous Waterfront dubbed the Three Graces Plan of the proposed Liverpool ferry berth at Princes Half Tide Dock which would replace existing Isle of Man ferry terminal at Liverpool Landing Stage. This berth is located almost opposite of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the famous Waterfront dubbed the Three Graces Photo: Image published IOM Today

#LiverpoolTerminal - The Isle of Government, Tynwald has voted to acquire a site in Liverpool for a new ferry terminal writes IOM Today.

The Manx Government are also to continue talks with the island's sole operator, the Isle of Man Steam Packet over a new sea services deal.

But following a raft of amendments, and amendments of amendments, the near-four hour debate ended in farce as it became clear that the court was not sure what it had voted for.

New Tynwald president Steve Rodan remarked: ‘You can look up in Hansard what we have just voted on if you are unclear!’

During the debate, the Steam Packet was criticised for its ‘threats and blackmail tactics’ and its motive in pursuing an early deal questioned, with a number of MHKs claiming a distressed fund manager called Anchorage which has a 31 per cent shareholding was just after making a quick profit.

There was no such questioning of the role of the Peel Group from whom a 236-year lease on Princes Half Tide Dock is to be purchased for a new ferry terminal for a price of up to £3.5m.

Indeed all Tynwald members appeared to support the move to buy the site despite no clear explanation being given as to why the taxpayer is to get involved at all, given that Peel had originally indicated it would fund the facility in its entirety – if it could get a guarantee of long-term commitment to the route.

Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne said it was ‘an opportunity we would not want to miss’. He said any agreement to buy the site would provide for it to be returned to the owner at no cost to government if the development didn’t subsequently go ahead.

Leonard Singer (Ramsey) said the purchase of the site would mean we would control both ends of the route.

There will be an open tender for the design and build contract for the ferry terminal, the £25m cost funded by the developer. The DoI report says no work would begin ‘until a suitable agreement has been reached for its long-term use by IOMSPCo’.

The IOM Today has much more on the story here.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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