The Government’s shipping minister has pledged to visit Liverpool after ecumenical charity Liverpool Seafarers Centre called for her department to be relocated to the city.
John Wilson, chief executive of the Crosby centre, wrote to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson (see attached letter) to suggest Liverpool as a suitable new home for the maritime department. Kelly Tolhurst MP, the minister for aviation, maritime and security has now written back on the Prime Minister’s behalf (see attached letter).
Mr Wilson was prompted to get in touch over speculation that the government will relocate some departments to areas outside of London.
In his letter, Mr Wilson said: “The maritime office within the department, in my opinion, will be suited to locate to a maritime city. I am therefore suggesting, if this might be in your vision, Liverpool city be a suitable candidate for consideration. With its maritime history, the present and future of the nation’s dependence upon maritime trade, not only with our present trading partners, but with the future in mind of new opportunities, Liverpool’s geographical location is ideal. That the infrastructure of connectivity to the rest of the country is well placed, together with the added advantage of HS2 speaks volumes.”
In her reply, Mrs Tolhurst said the Government was committed to levelling up across the UK and that the administration of Government needed to be less London-centric. She said that the Department for Transport, like all departments, was working closely with wider cross-cutting programmes to consider options for relocating civil service and arms-length body roles out of London and into the regions of the UK.
She said: “We want to ensure we are realising the full potential of the country and delivering opportunity across the UK, including in northern cities such as Liverpool, through local industrial strategies, devolution deals and city deals. I hope to visit Liverpool in the coming months and look forward to seeing first-hand all the exciting developments which are taking place.”
Mr Wilson said he was pleased to see the minister’s positive response and called on the Merseyside maritime sector and local politicians to support making Liverpool the maritime home of Government.
“Liverpool is a maritime city, we are passionate about the sea and we are a merchant navy commercial port as well as shipbuilding and shiprepair hub with a massive cluster of maritime businesses (see notes to editors),” he said. “As a city we understand maritime and so many families have links to the sea. There is no better place for the Government to base its maritime headquarters than the great port city of Liverpool – known and respected around the world for its seafaring tradition.”
Liverpool Seafarers Centre, which scooped the Positive Impact Award at the Mersey Maritime Industry Awards 2020 this month helps 50,000 seafarers each year visiting Merseyside ports. It is a partnership between Apostleship of the Sea (Liverpool) and The Mersey Mission to Seafarers. In September 2019, LSC was awarded the world’s best seafarer centre at the International Seafarer Welfare Awards (ISWAN) as nominated and voted for by mariners themselves. The charity’s work involves visiting vessels to integrate with the crew, offering a listening ear to help combat isolation and loneliness and providing places ashore for seafarers to relax away from their working environment.
Fact file: The Liverpool City Region’s maritime industry:
- Maritime contributes £4.2 billion to the economy in domestic output through business turnover.
- The sector supports 52,000 jobs across the area.
- It employs some of the most productive workers in the economy, way above the national average.
- For every £1 generated by the sector, the wider economy benefits by £2.64.
*Figures from a Mersey Maritime study into the economic impact of the sector in the Liverpool City Region, in collaboration with Maritime UK.
Mersey Maritime has also produced a short video summing up Liverpool’s maritime sector: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zui7pReDjgM
Liverpool Seafarers Centre
* Liverpool Seafarers Centre’s roots date back to the 19th century and is a partnership between the Catholic Apostleship of the Sea (Liverpool) and the Anglican Mersey Mission to Seafarers.
* LSC is funded by donations from the churches, we well as general donations and a new port levy on shipping lines.
* LSC provides support to 50,000 seafarers passing through Liverpool each year and is headquartered at Colonsay House in Crosby and opened a new centre in Eastham on Wirral opened in 2017.
* LSC centres provide ‘a lifeline’ to seafarers, offering a safe and secure place to rest and also receive practical and emotional support.
* With 95 per cent of British imports and exports transported by sea the UK is dependent on seafarers.
* Corporate supporters of LSC include: Essar’s Stanlow oil refinery in Ellesmere Port, Peel Ports, the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, the Mersey River Pilots, Mersey Maritime, the Voluntary Aid Club and The Phoebe Wortley Charitable Trust.