I was honoured to be a guest speaker recently at an event hosted by Peel Ports during London International Shipping Week, one of the industry’s biggest global gatherings. The week is a vital opportunity for leaders across the maritime world to come together, showcase successes and discuss shared challenges.
The Liverpool story illustrates some of these perfectly.
Peel Ports has had a massive programme of investment in recent years, totalling some £750m worth of new and upgraded infrastructure to support the local and national economy. Its facilities help businesses to move their goods in and around the UK as well as much further afield. The Port of Liverpool in particular offers cargo owners routes by road, rail, ship canal and sea.
Naturally, this is something I already appreciate, given how important Peel Ports is as jobs provider for people in my constituency. In my capacity as the Shadow Minister for International Trade, I’m also acutely aware of how important the port’s new Liverpool2 container terminal is in terms of opening up new routes to markets across the globe, not just for local businesses but the whole UK economy.
However, the port doesn’t exist in a vacuum. While we in the North-west don’t suffer the same congestion as the South-east, there’s no question that successive governments have failed to invest properly in the regional road and rail networks needed by Peel Ports’ customers.
This was one of the key themes at its event, where the company revealed its plans to introduce a new rail freight service, improving links with Scotland and the Midlands especially. Unfortunately, our rail infrastructure, notably from west to east, doesn’t provide the capacity for growth that is needed to ensure our economic prosperity for years to come.
For their part, Peel Ports has brought its facilities and services up to 21st century standards. The challenge is for the government to match that ambition and make good on its commitment to rebalance its transport investment programmes towards the north rather than the south.
This, in its turn, will support some of the main manufacturing sectors in the Liverpool city region in achieving their plans for the future, creating jobs and incomes for future generations.
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