Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry visited the Birkenhead shipyard and engineering and was told Merseyside’s fast-growing maritime sector was the key to job and wealth creation. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool city region’s £4bn maritime sector can drive local job and wealth creation over the next few years with shipyard Cammell Laird leading the charge.
That was the clear message delivered to Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry when he visited the Birkenhead shipyard and engineering company or the final stop of a ‘northern regions’ tour co-organised by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.
The tour was arranged to connect the Minister with businesses and workers across the northern region, to communicate the potential of the Northern Powerhouse and how it can impact on their lives. Mr Berry was joined by founder of Northern Power Women Simone Roche.
Maritime is one of the Liverpool city region’s success stories. It is a hugely diverse sector employing more than 28,000 people with local industry body Mersey Maritime actively looking to grow the sector.
Cammell Laird is an iconic name on the banks of the Mersey and was founded almost 200 years ago. After enduring troubled periods towards the end of the 20th century and into this one, it is now thriving having diversified into other areas such as nuclear.
Shipbuilding and repair remains at the heart of its operations it is currently putting the final touches to the £200m new UK polar expedition vessel, RRS Sir David Attenborough, and is bidding for the £1.25m contract to build the Royal Navy’s next generation of frigates with its Leander design.
Mr Berry was given full access to the shipyard before delivering a speech and Q&A session with the workforce including graduates and apprentices. The Rossendale and Darwen MP later attended a private meeting with senior management.
Cammell Laird Leander project director,Tony Graham, led the tour. Mr Graham, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the naval and defence sector, briefed Mr Berry on a series of major projects in which the yard is participating in as anticipated by the National Shipbuilding Strategy.
“The visit enabled us to emphasise the importance of the maritime sector not only to the Northern Powerhouse, but to the UK at large,” said Mr Graham.
“We enjoyed a well-rounded afternoon with Mr Berry, engaging with staff on all levels and hearing their valuable views on the economy and workplace. We were further able to discuss our recent successes, including the slipway launch of the Government’s pioneering polar research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough.
“Cammell Laird fully is in full support of the Northern Powerhouse vision for a globally-competitive northern economy with a flourishing private sector, a highly-skilled population, and world-renowned civic and business leadership.
“This is reflected in our ambitious export opportunities including the T31e Frigate bid to supply cutting-edge warships to navies around the world through BAE Systems global sales campaigns.
“We believe passionately in British engineering and local skill development. Our projects feed a massive supply chain across the North West region. Meanwhile, our apprenticeship programme is one of the biggest in the region providing long term skilled jobs for young people. Moreover each year we are generating tens of millions for the economy.”
Mr Berry added: “I was delighted to finally fulfil my boyhood dream of visiting the shipyard at Cammell Laird to see first-hand the amazing work they do. The future of this yard is absolutely crucial to the future of Birkenhead and Liverpool and I will do all I can to support them.
“The Northern Powerhouse isn’t about party politics it’s about everyone in the North coming together which is why I’ll continue to work with the Labour Mayors of Liverpool and Manchester to drive the Northern Powerhouse forward for everyone in the North West and the whole of the North of England.”