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A bridge too far?

Houston: Liverpool DOES have a problem with the (new) Landing Stage, Larry Neild reports

Published on June 16th 2008.

A bridge too far?

THOUSANDS of people made the pilgrimage to the waterfront, last week, to view the biggest cruise liner ever to steam up the Mersey, the Grand Princess.

Princes Parade became her home for the day, bringing 2,600 passengers to the heart of the city.

Yet almost a year after its grand opening by the Prince of Wales, the £20m-plus landing stage continues to be hit by as yet unresolved hiccups.

Last week's visitors, including a number of wheelchair users, had to drag themselves up the rough and ready footbridge used by generations of foot passengers heading to the Isle of Man ferries

It was designed to accommodate a fleet of coaches, waiting at the foot of the carpeted gangplanks to whisk passengers to the likes of Chester, North Wales, the Lake District and other attractions in the wider region.

They even built what must be one of the country’s biggest bus shelters along almost the length of the facility.

Instead, last week's visitors, including a number of wheelchair users, had to drag themselves up the rough and ready footbridge used by generations of foot passengers heading to the Isle of Man ferries.

Three separate issues have caused this major headache: a security problem, and the two bridges that coaches would need to negotiate.

Coach operators have demanded modifications to the new linkspan bridge before agreeing to allow their expensive luxury vehicles to negotiate it; the hump in a small bridge linking the new stage to the Isle of Man terminal is a hump too far, creating the prospect of a see-sawing effect for long coaches.

Last year passengers arriving on the QE2 had to make the long walk, but at that time the linkspan bridge was unfinished. The promise was that within a matter of time (ie weeks) the coaches would be able to sail down the new bridge as planned, drive onto the new stage and wait for the tourists to walk literally no more than a few yards.

So why are passengers, arriving during Liverpool’s reign as Capital of Culture, being forced to walk the long gang plank to reach dry land?

One official I spoke to down at the dockside said it was because the hump on the hump bridge made it difficult for coaches to cross the structure without getting stuck in the middle. He also cited the reluctance of security agencies to allow coaches to draw alongside berthed vessels. It is all down to an international shipping and port security code, introduced as an anti-terrorism measure.

Just a few days ago a team of workmen were busy making adjustments to the little hump-back bridge. But last week it was still not used by the coaches.

One tour organiser at Princes Parade said: “The coaches can’t get across the little hump bridge, so they can’t go onto the terminal.”

So what has Liverpool City Council got to say about this irritating little problem?

A spokesman told Liverpool Confidential: “The humped back bridge, as it has become known, has been adapted to take coaches. The security issue relates only to returning not departing passengers.

At the moment it still unclear as to whether the security people, will allow passengers returning on coaches to come down to the landing stage or not but there is no problem with departure. The berth was not used (for the Grand Princess visit) as the relatively low number of coaches made.

St Nicholas Place location suitable. We hope to have coaches on the landing stage for the next call on 5 July.”

That is presuming the ongoing security issue can be resolved.

But our Captains of Politics will insist it is all worth it for the economic benefits it will bring to Liverpool. Is that so? According to one report politicians say the visiting passengers this season will inject £1.2m into the city. On the Grand Princess visit there were 28 coaches for the day-trippers – capable of ferrying as many as 1,400 of the 2,600 passengers beyond the city’s environs. Short of plonking a courtesy begging bowl on Edge Lane and asking the visitors to dig-deep into their pockets for Liverpool, what is the financial benefit for the city from these visitors?

Of course it is a terrific sight to see cruise ships back on the Mersey, but we shouldn't let the sea salt go to our heads.

The Grand Princess will be back on July 5 and twice again in August. Lets hope they have sorted out the bridge and security problems to avert all that foot slogging.

On second thoughts why not ban coaches altogether and insist all passengers spend the day spending their dollars in Liverpool?

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

KnowledgeableJune 16th 2008.

It was the city council who built it, with significant funding from NWDA. MDHC is planning its own rival landing stage not far away from this council-owned one. Apparently.

Salty SamJune 16th 2008.

We used to be famous for having the world's longest floating landing-stage. After a century or so of faithful service it was scrapped for no logical reason and replaced by some little crap thing that sank within months of its installation in 1972.With that sort of a track record, I'm not at all surprised that the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company can spend £20 million on a landing stage that doesn't work. And these are in the provate sector that we're all supposed to admire!

evertonyJune 16th 2008.

yer right, we dont do things good anymore

SinbadJune 16th 2008.

Funny innit how these problems only seem to happen here. I regularly cruise and there are no problems getting on and off coaches anywhere else. I was in Ireland recently and the coahces drew up alongside the boat and off we went. They even allowed the public to stroll along the landing area. Liverpool has this knack of easily making everything so very difficult. When we had the old wooden stage hundreds used to go down there, and guess what, nobody ever blew up a ship. I think it cos the silly burgers running this shanty town want to spoil things for everyone. Hope they all have to walk the plank one day.

Salty dogJune 16th 2008.

Oh well then!

eleanor rigsbyJune 16th 2008.

Problems and a balls-up for the landing stage! Of course it was not going to be all shipshape. This IS Liverpool and we like to make a mess of things. That's why we made sure the city is a building site in Culture Year. It would look funny to the outside world if we went against the tide and got something right.

TourmanJune 16th 2008.

Why do visitors not spend the day in Liverpool? Because the shipping companies make more money sending passengers on expensive day trips to Wales, The Lakes etc.,

AnonymousJune 16th 2008.

Will it make money for liverpool, well when they asked for the Objective One money the cities consultants said yes of course it would but Tresuary experts said ha ha ha nope! Though they let it go ahead anyway for a number of reasons, though only as a landing stage and not terminal so that it wouldn't compete with existing terminals

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