Friends of the Ferries
across the Mersey
Chief Executive, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority,
|Dear Katherine Fairclough,
|14th July 2023
I am writing to you on behalf of our organisation (circa 400 members) concerning the withdrawal of Ferry services from Woodside. At our recent AGM, members expressed their dismay at this action, and asked me to seek clarification from you about the current situation.
We have understood for some time that major funding for a replacement landing stage at Woodside has been made available through the Government’s Town Centre grants, and, supplemented by Combined Authority contributions, is adequately resourced and effectively ring-fenced. Past press releases have indicated that initial design work has been commissioned, and there is now a target date for completion of December 2024.
This means that the Woodside Ferry service will not have been available for about two years. It will be particularly detrimental to Birkenhead’s tourist offer of -
the listed Woodside Terminal building; the Priory; the Wirral Transport Museum; the Grade 1 listed buildings which form Hamilton Square; and the listed Birkenhead Park. In our view, Birkenhead needs to be firmly linked to the burgeoning Liverpool tourist industry across the river.
Meanwhile, we have no information on the structural condition of the existing Woodside stage (built 1985) which has been scheduled for examination at this time. The present closure, we are told, is because the appearance of the stage does not meet Mersey Ferries’ aesthetic standards. We disagree with this analysis, and believe that the Woodside ferry service should be re-instated now and kept in operation except while the landing stage is actually being replaced.
Friends of the Ferries was founded in 1977 by the public response to a clause in a Bill submitted to Parliament by the MPTE. This sought the cancelation of the Royal Charter which requires a Woodside Ferry service to be provided. The clause was withdrawn after a 2 hour Parliamentary debate on that specific matter!
You can therefore understand our concerns about the above turn of events.
We would thus be grateful if you could explain more fully the rationale behind the closure of the Woodside Terminal at this time; inform us of the structural condition of the stage; and confirm the design and build programme for the new works. We would appreciate receiving links to relevant reports.
I am sending a courtesy copy of this letter to Gary Evans, with whom we have regular and fruitful contact about Mersey Ferries’ activities.
Andrew Hodgson, Chair, Friends of the Ferries, 39, South Parade, West Kirby.