Liverpool

Plan for new Mersey ferries halted over 'Brexit delay'

Mersey ferry Image copyright Merseytravel
Image caption The existing Mersey ferries, which are 60 years old, are "operating beyond their expected lifespan".

Plans to build the first Mersey ferries for 60 years have been halted due to "market uncertainties" around Brexit, transport bosses have said.

Transport improvements totalling £172m were approved in September including two new ferries, new bridges and a landing stage at the Seacombe terminal.

But Merseytravel said the UK's delay in leaving the EU had "brought uncertainty to the bidding process".

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram agreed it would be "irresponsible" to proceed.

Merseytravel said, although the 60-year-old vessels were operating "beyond their expected lifespan", paying for their replacements had been halted due to rising costs.

A spokeswoman said: "There is a high level of market uncertainty around Brexit, meaning it does not appear to be best value for the public purse to progress this procurement at this stage given the level of risk which has emerged."

Transport bosses were "committed to Mersey Ferries long-term strategy" and the position would be reconsidered after Brexit, she added.

'Irresponsible'

Liverpool City Region mayor Mr Rotheram said it was incredibly frustrating" but it would be "irresponsible" to proceed under current circumstances.

He said: "At present, all of the submissions received are significantly higher than the funding available to us, due to the effects of Brexit on the currency markets and the uncertainty this is causing for bidders.

"We have no option but to pause the procurement for a short time until all sides have greater certainty.

"While this is disappointing it is the right choice to protect the interests of local people and the long-term future of the Mersey Ferries."

Merseytravel said the commissioned works at Seacombe Terminal will continue as planned.

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