The region’s powerhouse maritime sector, is backing calls to persuade the government to appoint a dedicated, ‘coastal economies’ Minister.
Mersey Maritime, the industry body representing hundreds of maritime businesses, says coastal areas such as Merseyside, are ready, willing and able to take a lead responsibility in the UK’s post-COVID-19 recovery strategy.
In the past 10 years, Merseyside has been heavily reliant on the tourism and hospitality sectors to drive GVA growth, with tourism, until the coronavirus pandemic hit, worth more than £5bn a year to the city region economy.
However, at the same time and with considerably less fanfare, the maritime sector in Merseyside has been rapidly growing and now brings in £4.2bn a year in GVA and supports 52,000 workers across more than 33 sub-sectors.
Along with Liverpool city region’s knowledge and science sectors, maritime is now ready to take the lead in the recovery says Maritime UK, which represents the country’s £46bn maritime division, adding that it is vital for central government to put a dedicated focus into the coastal communities and help them to reach their full potential.
Mersey Maritime chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke in backing the call, said, “This is a very timely campaign, coming as it does at the start of Seafarers Awareness Week and Mersey Maritime is delighted to throw its weight behind the call for a Minister for the Coastal Powerhouse. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our industry has kept the country fed, fuelled and supplied. But we also know that our coastal communities, often some of the most challenged and deprived in the whole country, are also feeling the negative effects of the Coronavirus challenge in a way likely to cause considerable economic hardship. We can’t allow this to happen. That’s why we need a dedicated Government Minister with a razor sharp focus on ensuring people living on Britain’s coastlines aren’t disproportionately affected.”
Mr Shirling-Rooke added that the industry was fully supportive of the government’s, ‘levelling up’, programme but that it shouldn’t be limited to projects such as the Northern Powerhouse.
“The significance of the maritime sector in supporting so many jobs in our region, and with 50% of maritime jobs being outside London and the South East, demonstrates how we are uniquely placed to deliver on the Government’s approach. A minister would help focus and accelerate these efforts. And here in the Liverpool city region, we know how well placed we are to maximise the benefits of the post-pandemic economic revival we must see happen. We have the UK’s most significant west facing port, a touching point for renewed opportunities in transatlantic trade and an industry that has enjoyed significant inward investment in recent years. We have strong road and rail networks and access to modern shipbuilding and advanced manufacturing businesses that stand alongside some of the very best in the country. What we need now is a voice right in the heart of Government banging the drum for us.”
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