When someone is losing the argument & won't take no for an answer, despite logic & law being against them, they're usually advised to grow up, or leave the pub & sober up. Unfortunately, Peel Holdings has cast itself in the role of the recalcitrant reveller, adamant it's right & that it won't back down over its plan to use public money for a commercial development (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2010/03/19/liverpool-s-pier-head-could-become-a-base-for-cruise-liners-100252-26065361/ ).
Needless to say Warren Bradley & his merry men (they've been drinking in the same bar as Peel) & Oldham Hall Street are back on board, just as they were during their juvenile game of name-calling with Southampton (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.com/2009/09/oldham-echo-fight-arranger.html & http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.com/2009/10/oldham-echo-fight-arranger-round-two.html ).
When the appeal of "port wars" began to wane, accompanied by the heavy hangover reality of business as it is normally conducted (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.com/2009/11/public-money-to-pay-for-ports-plan.html ) & the threadbare nature of Peel's case was exposed, the cheerleaders realised the game was up & silently peeled --pardon the pun-- away (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.com/2009/12/oldham-echo-fight-arranger-licence.html ).
That said, however, I noted at the time: "It would be nice to think that sanity's finally prevailed. Don't hold your breath, though."
Well, the sanity's gone out of the window again & it's trebles all round at the bar for Peel & its acolytes; Peter Elson lost no time in the Oldham Echo to get the party resumed (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2010/03/22/shipping-lines-peel-floats-idea-of-transferring-cruise-turnarounds-to-temporary-pier-head-berth-100252-26081623/ ):
"Terrific news from Mersey Docks owner Peel and Liverpool City Council about transferring the turnaround cruises from Langton Dock to the Pier Head cruise liner stage on a temporary basis.
"This is bold new thinking from Peel which, by retaining the same number of cruises as at Langton, hopes not to antagonise rival Southampton port bosses' cries of foul over breaking EU caveats on grants used to fund the new stage. Vital, too, is the tag of it being temporary, while Peel reviews building its own stage to the north."
This "bold new thinking" could well be seen by some as a third-rate sleight-of-hand manoeuvre by Peel. It's intriguing, too, that Elson uses the word "reviews" about Peel's stage north of the Pier Head. That could be read as a non-committal stance by Peel on whether such a stage would ever be built.
Elson's piece quotes Cllr Gary Millar (yes, he's popped back into the bar, too), the council's executive member for local tourism & regeneration, & he further muddies the already brown waters surrounding the exotically-named Liverpool Waters project when he burbles that "it's a wonderful advance by Peel to test the waters. Once a temporary berth is established the public will have a perception that it shouldn't be taken away and hopefully that will focus efforts on finding a long term solution."
So, Peel is testing the waters with this plan, eh? Interesting phrase. It could be taken to mean that Peel is chancing its arm with this plan & that it could present both Southampton & the Department for Transport with a de facto, as opposed to a de jure, cruise liner development which would be sold as a fait accompli, regardless of anyone else's wishes. Moreover, I'm sure Oldham Hall Street will play its part in facilitating the public perception "that it shouldn't be taken away".
Nah, maybe I'm just being too cynical & Mark Thomas is right that this really is a "nasty & vindictive blog". Incidentally, I note from Elson's article that the first cruise liner that left the Langton Dock this week was named Boudicca, a tribute to the ancient leader whose war against Roman occupation of Britain ended in heroic failure, her corpse reportedly being buried on the site of one of the platforms at London's King's Cross station. I'm sure there aren't any parallels with Peel's prospects in its renewal of hostilities.
Yet it seems that Peel does inhabit a parallel universe in believing that if it can't convince government of their case, it'll continue with a crafty nod here, a surreptitious wink there & a rabble-rousing call to base parochialism, elbowing the famous Mersey ferries in the process, as Wayne noted last Friday (http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/2010/03/peel-holdings-want-pier-head-stinky-ink.html ).
This is the reality which neither the Daily Ghost nor the Oldham Echo won't even allude to, as outlined by the Southampton Daily Echo (yes, yes, I'm highly aware that Southampton has its own agenda, but its points on the use of public money for a commercial operation are unarguable):
"The Department for Transport (DfT) decided against relaxing its rules on publicly funded competition to allow a full turnaround facility at Liverpool's Cruise Terminal on the grounds that it would have an 'unfair and adverse effect' on the market.
"Now officials from the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, owned by developer Peel, are again in discussions with the city council to transfer cruises from its existing turnaround facility, a tatty dock in Bootle, to Pier Head.
"Now, however, Peel says the move would just be temporary, while it presses ahead with ambitious plans to build its own cruise terminal as part of the £5.5 billion skyscraper Liverpool Water scheme. That scheme, the largest urban regeneration project in the UK, is likely to take years, with a planning application not due to be submitted until later this year.
"In a bid to appease concerned rivals they say the number of turnaround cruises would remain the same, but ABP [owner of Southampton docks] is unimpressed arguing if they had wanted better facilities 'they should have invested in them years ago' " (http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/business/shipping/shippingnews/5077150._Port_wars__resume/ ).
Indeed. However, that won't stop Peel, Bradley's crew & those in an increasingly Mary Celeste-like Oldham Hall Street from filling up their tankards & demanding a resumption of Cruise Wars until EU rules are tossed overboard, the DfT is rammed & Peel's vessel rules the waves.
*Image courtesy of http://www.e-architect.co.uk/ .