Liverpool Freeport To Be Resurrected?

Liverpool Business News

reports that a new Liverpool Freeport Plan could boost the Mersey economy By £739m a year, equivalent to £1,500 for every household in the city.

On Monday, the Government announced a 10-week consultation on the freeport plan after which it will invite towns and cities across the UK to bid for the right to create 10 free trade zones. The locations will be announced by the end of the year with the first zones up and running in 2021.

Freeports are a designated zone where normal tax and customs rules do not apply. These can be airports as well as maritime ports. At a freeport, imports can enter with simplified customs documentation and without paying tariffs.

Businesses operating inside designated areas in and around the port can manufacture goods using the imports and add value, before exporting again without ever facing the full tariffs or procedures. If the goods move out of the freeport into another part of the country, however, they have to go through the full import process, including paying any tariffs.

The Port of Liverpool was a freeport until 2012 when the zones were abolished by the then coalition Government. The idea has the support of Liverpool city region’s £4bn maritime sector. Representative body Mersey Maritime is backing the policy as is Port of Liverpool operator Peel Ports.

A report published in 2018 by UK consultants Mace, authored by former Treasury economist Chris Walker, claimed integrating Free Ports with enterprise zones would add £9bn a year to the Northern economy, which is equivalent to £1,500 a year extra for each Northern household, and create as many as 150,000 high-value jobs.

It said Liverpool alone could see the creation of up to 12,000 high-value jobs as a result of setting up what it calls “supercharged” freeport status. It identified seven UK locations as being ideally placed to benefit – Liverpool, Immingham & Grimsby Ports, Hull Port, Rivers Hull & Humber, Tees & Hartlepool, Tyne and Manchester Airport.

The Mace report said “Transforming these ports into supercharged free ports would ensure the region is well placed to drive post-Brexit growth and help rebalance the UK economy. This would not only drive industrial and economic development, but also create thousands of jobs which would in turn help to reduce inequality”.

Peel Ports has invested around £750m into the creation of the Liverpool2 container terminal, with further investment at Port Salford at the other end of the Manchester Ship Canal. As the UK’s most prominent west-facing port, the company believes the Port of Liverpool could benefit from increased post-Brexit transatlantic trade.

Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of Mersey Maritime, said “Until 2012, the Port of Liverpool was the largest Freeport in the UK and I hope local partners will be first in the line to bid to become one of the 10 new freeports. The potential to cut costs for businesses to help them become more globally competitive and the scope for less regulation, helping businesses to cut down on paperwork and bureaucracy, will offer many the greater flexibility they need on when, where and how they trade”.

During a visit to Mersey Maritime in Birkenhead in January, maritime minister Nusrat Ghani

talked up the benefits of freeports. Seen above with Chris Shirling-Rooke, she told LBN “We are keen to consult with ports around the UK and we are asking them to put forward their submissions”.

Local Flood Report

During the aftermath of Storm Ciara, the Royal Navy is conducting naval patrol exercises in areas of Burscough, Halsall. and Aughton.

An observant Halsall Parish Councillor saw the submarine surface briefly before it submerged en route to Burscough and Aughton.

However WLBC and LCC deny any flood water issues within the borough boundaries and are fully satisfied with the drainage infrastructure coping with any additional surface water. “We don’t need the Royal Navy in exciting West Lancashire” was the retort from a WLBC press officer.

Asked to comment, the Royal Navy issued a statement that the permanent flooding in Burscough alone was an attraction for submariners and to be able to add Halsall and Aughton was an additional benefit in navigation. As the Commander said “We go where no water company ventures”.

Highways Teams Are Busy With Flood Clear-Up And Snow Forecast

Lancashire County Council states “it’s highway teams are continuing to work to keep the county moving following the weekend’s floods, as well as gearing up to deal with forecasts for ice and snow for some areas”.

But some residents are critical of LCC for not undertaking routine clearance of road drains that would stop much local flooding. Classical examples are in Burscough, Halsall, and Aughton. Time and again we see the floods on main roads. We showed pictures of Moss Delph Lane in Aughton, which regularly floods, and there is visible damage to a drain there.

“Highway teams received in the region of 400 calls over the weekend, and worked around the clock to respond to issues caused by Storm Ciara. Most of these problems related to localised flooding of roads, and downed trees, with teams using sandbags to divert water where necessary and chainsaws to remove trees which were causing obstructions.

“Work is ongoing to clear drains blocked by flood debris, repair retaining walls damaged by the flood waters, and assess damage to roads and other infrastructure.

“The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for snow and ice for the region from 3pm on Monday and throughout Tuesday.

“Localised forecasts are for wintry showers to affect the whole county, with sleet and snow expected to particularly affect higher routes throughout Monday night and Tuesday morning. Snow expected overnight could lead to accumulations of up to 6cm on the very highest routes by morning, with the potential for some snow to also settle at lower levels.

“Gritting is planned across the county this evening, with crews going out from 2pm this afternoon in some areas ahead of the wintry showers forecast. Team are also being retained to patrol throughout the night on those routes expected to be most affected by snow in the early hours.

County Councillor Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Our highways and emergency planning teams have had a very busy weekend as part of the multi-agency emergency response to deal with the impacts of Storm Ciara.

“I’d like to thank them for their hard work and dedication as I understand they put in some very long hours, and did all they could to mitigate the impact of the flooding to our communities.

“Fortunately the water has now receded, and our Emergency Planning team is leading the coordination of the recovery phase. Our highway staff are still busy out on the roads, dealing with problems to structures such as retaining walls caused by the storm, clearing debris from drainage infrastructure, and assessing other damage.

“But the weather has not finished with us yet, and our focus over the coming hours will be on keeping the county moving due to the forecast for ice and snow for many areas.

“I’d remind people that gritting the roads will not stop snow and icy slush from settling, and I’d ask people to take great care and drive to the conditions. The salt we put on the roads helps to prevent ice by lowering the freezing temperature, the action of traffic is needed to mix the salt with the ice and snow to make it work, which means any route could stay icy even after being gritted.”

Lancashire County Council has a fleet of 45 frontline gritters which can treat the 1,500 miles of the county council’s priority road network within around four hours, but may take longer in severe conditions.

As the Lead Local Flood Authority for Lancashire, the county council will be investigating the causes of flooding as a result of Storm Ciara in order to identify where repairs may still be required, which organisations need to be involved, and in particular where there may be opportunities to bid for funding for schemes to mitigate future flooding. People are asked to report any issues with as much detail as possible, particularly where properties have been affected, by calling 0300 123 6780 during normal working hours or by email to

Down At The Old Cock & Bull



To whet your appetite the APC will discuss a vacancy being filled for the Town Green Ward and to complete the procedure.

Then there will be the usual planning matters, followed by the bean counters’ “Minutes of Estimates Meeting (full Council) held Tuesday, 21 January 2020, copies circulated prior to meeting: a) to receive and approve as a correct record b) to confirm the Parish Precept 2020/2021. Why there should be a 2020/2021 precept at all is a mystery given how rich APC is, last totals published, cash and fixed assets, cash and short term + fixed assets etc = £446,937. Time for a tax holiday? Oh, CIL £53,040 less spends on SPIDs. We, Aughtonians, are collectively close to being half-millionaires!

There will be the usual police and crime figures, and the public will be invited to speak at the discretion of the chairperson.

Have You Been Flooded Today?

Everybody has been flooded to some degree

depending on what surface water road drains the County has neglected. In Moss Delph Lane, Aughton, which has a record of severe flooding which then reaches Prescot Road at the railway bridge junction, it’s a given that flooding will happen. 

Former Aughton Parish Councillor David Gallagher was a good citizen today as he spoke to local residents and then immediately contacted Lancashire County Council and the Police 101, “first engaged, then online form filled in”, so he has the incident numbers. He hopes they will soon clear this up. He provided all these photographs as evidence of LCC neglect.

Hope of ending such flooding is certain to be dashed, as the LCC pleads poverty of public funding while the public just keep on paying more.




What Links Fraudulent Companies With Beacon Park Golf Course?

The Gazette, the Official Public Record

links companies and people to Beacon Park Golf Course, as did the failed fiduciary duty of West Lancashire Borough Council owed to its taxpayers. As Mr Justice Cranston

stated in 2011 “For especially ‘in these days of public bodies contracting-out services to small businesses and charities, it seems especially important to protect agreements which the latter make in good faith with them’. And the “party best placed to guarantee lawful action and procedural propriety is the public body itself”. 

In response to a question this week about the state of WLBC owned Beacon Park Golf Course (BPGC) after the failed landfill operation and the prospects of Serco Leisure Operating Ltd ever restoring the course to its former glory, we look at the history of people involved in its demise into a partial heap of mud and excessive landfill. 

While BPGC was in the hands of DCT Leisure Ltd and its Director Mark Prosser, the course was known for its quality. But DCT Leisure  Ltd wasn’t making enough profit and ultimately filed for insolvency, leaving unpaid VAT of circa £60,000 plus others.

“Meetings of Creditors. DCT LEISURE LIMITED. Other Names of Company: Beacon Park Golf & Country Club (Company Number 02813722 ). Registered office: Beacon Lane, Dalton, Upholland, WN8 7RU. Principal trading address: Prospect House, George Street, Shaw, Oldham, OL2 8DJ. Notice “…under Section 98 Legislation of the Insolvency Act 1986 that a meeting of the creditors of the above-named Company will be held at The Old Bank, 187a Ashley Road, Hale, Cheshire, WA15 9SQ, on 14 March 2012”…for the purposes mentioned in Sections 99, 100 and 101 of the said Act”. Darren Terence Brookes and Gary Gorbett of Milner Boardman & Partners…is qualified to act as an insolvency practitioner in relation to the above and will furnish creditors, free of charge, with such information concerning the company’s affairs as is reasonably required. Signed by Mark Prosser, Director. 17 February 2012.

Into the breach stepped Serco Leisure Operating Ltd, already controversially the preferred provider of leisure services by WLBC since circa 2004/2005. But the smell of landfill royalties was in the air, as Prosser had inferred, but too late for him. Serco engaged with Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd, ignoring its previous insolvency record by director Jonathan Russell Snellgrove through UK Sports Parks Ltd via Cottage Fields Sports Park Ltd..

But who cared? Even while the above insolvency was proceeding the WLBC Interim Director of Planning John Harrison considered and then signed an application 2016/0040/FUL to vary 2011/0787/FUL and grant planning permission to Oakland Golf And Leisure Ltd of 20 Rockery Road Leeds, address as with VAT/Corp Tax, Knowsley Council swindlers UK Sports Parks Ltd.  

In other judgements “Lord Wilberforce  noted that the GLC owed ‘a duty of a fiduciary character to its ratepayers who have to provide the money”. 


And Lord Scarman   “accepted that the House of Lords had to construe the statute in question ‘in the light of the principle that a local authority owes a fiduciary duty to its ratepayers’.

When could we expect those wise words to be applied by WLBC to Beacon Park Golf Course?