Britain's biggest port of exports, Liverpool and the surrounding docks on Merseyside, is facing a major crisis.
Britain's biggest port of exports, Liverpool and the surrounding docks on Merseyside, is facing a major crisis. With an expected loss of GBP3 million Pounds Sterling this year and needing GBP20 million Pounds Sterling to overcome its problems, it has been refused a loan by the Government. Instead the Government is putting in a receiver to forestall creditors from demanding other action.
In the House of Commons, Opposition Members Tuesday (1 November) attacked the Government for this latest example of its refusal to help what it calls "lams ducks" in industry. The Transport Minister, Mr. John Peyton, retorted that while the Government was anxious about the situation, painful problems needed painful solutions.
A new Docks Committee has been set up and there was encouragement today with the news that three of Britain's biggest exporters, Pilkington's, I.C.I. and the giant AEI-GEC concern, area to continue to use the Merseyside docks despite a 20 per cent rise in charges. Port employers have promised to support the new Docks Committee. But they have had no success in their efforts to sell off some of the older docks.
Industrial unrest has played a large part in the problems at the docks with wildcat strikes contributing to the financial difficulties of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. But many observers believe that mismanagement has also been a considerable factor.
Some of the cures at present being considered include increased port levies, the closure of many of the less-efficient older docks and a streamlining of the organisation.
Meanwhile, Liverpool dockers have just voted to strike in protest against the Government's Industrial Relations Bill. The strike, scheduled for December 8, could cost the port up to GBP 40,000 Pounds Sterling.
The chairman of the Port Employers, Mr. James Legatt, was asked if the financial difficulties and the strikes could mean that the port might go out of business completely.