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Peel Ports gets control of Liverpool Cruise Terminal, seeks new operators

Arrangements now being taken forward could see a new cruise terminal development plan emerge in Liverpool
Operators of Liverpool Cruise Terminal are to surrender their lease and hand control of the UK northwest facility to local port owners.

The move could resurrect stalled plans for new investment and development, according to Liverpool city officials.

City Council exit strategy

As operators of the terminal since it opened in 2007, the City Council has been seeking an exit strategy – ending its financial obligations and liabilities – since last March.

A meeting of City Councillors Wednesday evening agreed: ‘the Council surrenders its lease and transfers the cruise liner berth to the statutory port authority.’

Liverpool is uncommon among UK ports in that the cruise operation is managed by the local authority, or Council.

New terminal plans

Much-vaunted and long-awaited plans for a new £90m ($110m) terminal, discussed by the City Council since 2015, have not materialised. Arrangements now being taken forward could see a new development plan emerge.

‘Heads of Terms with the statutory port authority will assist in facilitating a new lease to a third-party private operator and it is envisaged that this decision will result in efficient and coordinated infrastructure development of the cruise liner berth without any use of public money,’ the approved report stated.

Cruise boookings unaffected

No timeline for the proposed lease changes has been made public, and the Council said cruise business bookings currently in place until 2026 ‘will continue to be facilitated without any impact whatsoever.’

Sources familiar with existing operations said significant infrastructure works - with potential cost of £9m ($11m) - are looming for the four floating pontoons comprising the berth and owned by the City Council, their couplings and the linkspan bridges connecting the berth to shoreside facilities.

The statutory port authority is Peel Ports and it is understood the proposed changes already involve discussions with new operators.

A Peel Ports spokesman told Seatrade Cruise News: ‘We are regularly in discussions about a wide range of commercial opportunities for the business. We don’t comment or speculate on any discussion before the appropriate time.

‘Our long-term ambition has always been for Liverpool to be a leading maritime hub for investment and development opportunities, and that will not change.’

Councillors approved more talks to end existing arrangements and ordered an update for a meeting on December 19.