Ports across the UK, including the Port of Liverpool hold the key to boosting productivity and growing the economy post-Brexit.
That was consensus among senior politicians at an event hosted in London by Port of Liverpool operator Peel Ports at Westminster.
In his Autumn Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond painted a gloomy outlook for the British economy over the next few years with weak productivity and growth. He also set aside an extra £3bn to cope with any Brexit shocks.
But the mood among the 100-strong audience drawn from the political, shipping and business communities at the Peel reception was more upbeat about the UK’s prospects.
The event focused on the transatlantic opportunities and the importance of strengthening trade links between the UK and the Americas.
Peel has just invested £400m in Liverpool2, a deep water terminal on the River Mersey equipped to handle 95% of the world’s biggest container ships. And a renewed focus on transatlantic trade means Liverpool is facing in the right direction for the first time in decades.
‘Catalyst for change’
Peel Ports, which also owns and operates a number of ports around the UK and Ireland, has invested heavily in its infrastructure in recent years. Its strategic projects director, Gary Hodgson, explained the decision to develop Liverpool2
He told those assembled, who included Transport Minister John Hayes, Lord Prescott and Jake Berry, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, the project was acting as a “catalyst for change” for UK’s import and export potential.
He explained: “We took the bold move to invest heavily at Liverpool, knowing that if we built the ambitious infrastructure this would support higher productivity for the UK market, and in turn create an injection into the local economy, Liverpool and the Northern Powerhouse.
“We are investing for the future right across the UK, inland and portside, and realise the positive impact a well performing multimodal logistics sector can have on the UK economy’s balance sheet.”
The event was sponsored by Bill Esterson, Labour MP for Sefton and Shadow Minister for Business and International Trade. Liverpool2 is within his constituency.
He told the audience: “Peel Ports’ significant investment of £750m into the Port of Liverpool and inland logistics has helped to create jobs, skills and opportunities for young people not only in and around the Sefton area of Liverpool, but beyond.
“This is good news for my Sefton Central constituents and for thousands more besides across the city region.
“UK Ports are incredibly important to our economy and I fully welcome and support Peel Ports’ fresh and dynamic approach to ensuring we adapt and act as leaders ready to develop worldwide trade opportunities.
“Peel is playing its part in generating the infrastructure for businesses in our region but can’t do it alone.
“The Government is committed to HS2 from south to north, but needs to build new west to east railway lines, especially to increase the amount of freight carried by rail.
“It is absurd that it takes nine hours to move biomass fuel from the Port of Liverpool to Selby, just 90 miles away and Government must play its part for the port to fulfil its full potential role in boosting the prosperity of the Liverpool city region and the North West of England.”
Consultant at YBNews