Cruise ships to moor in Glasgow amid Clyde dispute

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The giant cruise liner Europa berthed at Greenock while the Red Arrows fly overhead. Picture by Bill Heaney

Three cruise ships are to be moored in Glasgow amid a dispute between the harbour operator and a neighbouring council, according to BBC Scotland.

Peel Ports plans to receive the vessels with skeleton crews for short-term berths at King George V docks in Shieldhall.

It has also received requests to lay-up ships at Greenock, but Inverclyde Council continue to oppose the move.

Councillors met to discuss the matter on Tuesday.

However there was no change in position and officers were asked to meet with Peel Ports to convey the council’s “strong opposition”.

Officers are also to look into the positions of the local MP and MSP on the issue and assess whether to bring the matter to the Scottish and UK governments.

Peel Ports told the council last month that it had received a number of requests from cruise companies who wanted to berth their ships on the Clyde.

Operators are laying up their vessels, with just crew members on board, until travel restrictions are lifted.

Earlier this month Inverclyde Council voiced its opposition because of the pressures on the health service Рas the council remains the worst-hit area for deaths involving coronavirus.

However Peel Ports said there was a “strict, well-established protocol” in place – and there was no reason to treat cruise ships with minimal crews any differently to cargo ships.

‘Lack of power’

Cllr Jim Clocherty told BBC Scotland that while Inverclyde had a “good relationship” with Peel Ports, the health of the population during the Covid-19 pandemic was of concern.

He also said the council was “frustrated” because of the council’s “lack of power and accountability”.

He said: “We’ve got the hard reality of being at the top of the Covid death table in Scotland so we have got as local authority to ensure that our population is safe.

“Our frustration is when you have the commercial operator also being in control of the port authority – it seems to us there’s a conflict there.

“It’s not for the council to resolve, but I think there are questions for the Scottish parliament to say – should a commercial operator also be a port authority?”

David Huck, Peel Ports’ group managing director confirmed while the harbour authority had no plans to moor ships at Greenock, it would receive three vessels at Shieldhall next month.

He said: “These are vessels which have skeleton crews of around 40 crew members each and have not had passengers on board for many weeks. The vessels involved have been deep-cleaned, are free from Covid and will be on the high seas for at least two weeks prior to arriving on the Clyde.

“There are literally hundreds of vessels arriving and departing from British ports daily, carrying vital goods and supplies, all subject to strict controls, statutory checks and regulations and these vessels are no different.”

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