THE Government has delayed reaching a verdict on Liverpool’s bid for a River Mersey cruise terminal where ocean liners could start and finish their journeys.
The Department for Transport (DfT) originally said it would deliver its decision before the end of the year.
But now Government officials are only committing to announcing the outcome “early in the new year”.
Last night a DfT spokeswoman said: “Careful consideration of the consultation responses has taken longer than expected.”
The delay in the decision will fuel speculation that the Government does not know which way to turn on the question of allowing “turnarounds”, which is mired in controversy.
The Daily Post is currently running its Get On Board campaign to overturn the ban on cruises beginning and ending at the Pier Head, calling for a return to the golden days when liners were based in the heart of Liverpool. Click here to see all our Get On Board stories.
But Southampton has led opposition from rival ports against Liverpool’s bid to satisfy State Aid rules by paying back £5.3m of the £17.8m grants used to fund the waterfront facility.
A 10-week DfT consultation closed in mid-September, but Southampton and its port operator Associated British Ports have conducted a high-profile campaign against Liverpool’s proposals.
Earlier this month, Southampton was accused of “hypocrisy” for standing in the way of Liverpool’s cruise terminal ambitions after £50m of taxpayers’ money was used to upgrade road access to its own port.