Organisation representing Merseyside’s £4bn maritime sector was at both the Labour and Conservative conferences as it looks to play a key role in the UK’s industrial strategy. Tony McDonough reports
Mersey Maritime has made its presence felt at the annual conferences of Britain’s two main political parties as it looks to cement its position as the leading voice in the UK’s maritime strategy.
With both Labour and Conservatives closely matched in the polls, it is crucial for the organisation to make sure it establishes and maintains strong relationships with the leading figures in both parties.
During the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, Mersey Maritime joined forces with Maritime UK to to organise a lunch on board Merseyside’s only floating restaurant, Floating Grace, attended by members of the shadow cabinet and by local maritime firms.
The session proved invaluable in offering companies the chance to speak to leading opposition politicians and, in turn, the politicians themselves were offered a fascinating insight into Liverpool city region’s £4bn maritime sector.
And the following week, Mersey Maritime chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke, spoke at an event at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham the following week called Coastal Powerhouse: The Role of Maritime in Driving UK Growth.
Other speakers included Sir Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, John Murray, chief executive, Society of Maritime Industries, Tim Morris, chief executive, UK Major Ports Group, and Jonathan Roberts, communications director, UK Chamber of Shipping.
Mr Shirling-Rooke told those present how Liverpool city region’s maritime sector was a powerhouse that had established itself as the most successful maritime industry cluster in the UK and how it now had a great opportunity to prosper from increased transatlantic trade in the post-Brexit world.
He said: “Mersey Maritime and the Liverpool city region cluster model is now seen as the exemplar for the maritime sector by the Department for International Trade and we expect our model to be rolled out nationally.”
Challenges and opportunities
Talking about Mersey Maritime’s presence at both conferences, he said: “At the end of next March Britain will leave the European Union in what is probably the most significant change the UK has experienced in decades.
“Maritime is a growing global sector and Brexit will provide both challenges and opportunities for Merseyside and UK firms.
“We wanted to get the message out loud and clear to our political leaders that the Merseyside maritime sector is ready to take a lead role in our post-Brexit future and help push forward the UK economy.”