Raising my head above the parapet in the Liverpool-Southampton port wars (& still nursing a broken heart after David Bartlett dropped the link to this blog on his Dale Street Blues site, oh, how fickle & thin-skinned they are on Oldham Hall Street, you can forget about that Christmas card this year, David!), I see that local Hampshire MP & prominent Lib Dem Chris Huhne has written to the European Competition Commissioner (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hampshire/8335506.stm ).
As has been pointed out too many times for the liking of vested local interests, Southampton has a case for raising concerns about the cruise liner terminal. The BBC report that the government "must approve the plan because a £9m EU grant helped pay for Liverpool's £20m cruise liner terminal, whereas Southampton is commercially-funded."
Business being business, the notion that public money should subsidise nearly half the amount needed to fund such a development on the Mersey is risible. Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm no apologist for free market capitalism, but the inconvenient reality for the usual local suspects is that having established an operation under its own steam, so to speak, Southampton has every right to highlight this absurdity.
The report quotes Cllr Gary Millar, executive member on the city council for enterprise & tourism: "We believe that the creation of a full turnaround facility at Liverpool will benefit the cruise liner industry in the UK, as the city is uniquely positioned to attract business from outside of Europe.
"The application to the DfT [Department for Transport] has been made in response to calls from the industry and passengers and the city is keen to build on the success of the facility so far."
I recall Wayne pointing Cllr Millar out to me at the PR stunt for One Parked Here Without Our Say-So (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.com/2009/08/hugs-from-mugs.html ). Pespiring visibly, Cllr Millar clasped a mobile in one hand while wearing what can be best described as a harrassed look on his face as the kids were bussed in for the photo-op; it's no surprise to observe that his attempts with syntax are as clumsy as his hamfisted PR technique.
The substance, if you can call it that, of Cllr Millar's puff-piece is more hole-ridden than Swiss cheese. Contending that a facility at Liverpool will "benefit the cruise liner industry in the UK" is arrant nonsense & an all too transparent bid to hoodwink a larger audience outside Merseyside. In addition, what's this garbage about Liverpool being "uniquely positioned" to capture & secure a non-Europen market? Is it merely because Liverpool is a westward-facing port? If so, you could make the same argument for Plymouth, Bristol, Cardiff or Glasgow.
It is of no surprise that Oldham Hall Street hasn't yet formulated a response to latest developments (still waiting for a press release to be issued by Peel Holdings, I suspect). However, if --or when-- it does, will it also mention that Chris Huhne was once a humble scribe for the Daily Ghost?