Metro Mayor clarifies Mersey Ferry procurement process

Following conflicting statements regarding the contract for the construction of the region’s first new ferry for 60 years, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, has issued some clarification.

Steve Rotheram said, “There’s been some confusion about the procurement of our new ferry.

“We’re expecting to award the contract to Cammell Laird – but only they can decide how to subcontract the work.

“We can’t dictate how businesses proceed with contracts we award – it would break procurement law.”

Previously, responding to the news that the Daman shipyard in the Netherlands had been awarded the contract, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, said, “This is a complete betrayal of a local and highly skilled workforce, it defies belief that a new Mersey ferry won’t be built on the river the ship will serve.

 “This is a wholesale failure of the government’s procurement policy, which continues to undermine strategic British industries and threatens jobs and skills.”

Mick Whitley MP, whose constituency includes the historic Cammell Laird shipyards, cited ongoing uncertainty about the degree of involvement of the Dutch-based Damen Group in the new build.  

The Liverpool City Region (LCR) confirmed that the new ferry would be a collaboration between Cammell Laird and the Damen Group, but the contract award is still subject to final negotiations. 

The Member of Parliament said that further clarity surrounding Damen’s involvement was needed and that “with Cammell Laird’s proud tradition of shipbuilding, Merseyside is well-placed to deliver the new Ferry to the very highest quality. From start to finish, this boat must be built in Birkenhead.”

In the UK, public bodies are governed by strict procurement rules which are supposed to ensure value for money, but which campaigners and trade unions blame for contracts being sent abroad. The Birkenhead MP said that the laws were in “desperate need of an overhaul” and claimed that they fail to adequately take into account the social value of building in Britain.  

Speaking to, Mick Whitley said, “Building in Britain just makes sense: it creates jobs, drives economic growth, and ensures that public money gets spent in local economies – rather than hoarded away in offshore bank accounts. And it represents far better value for the taxpayer, with much of the total spend being returned to the public purse through direct and indirect taxation.” 

The Birkenhead MP said that workers at Cammell Laird deserved “far better” than having work on the new Mersey Ferry offshored abroad and called for local authorities and Metro Mayors to have greater autonomy in making procurement decisions to support local businesses and promote economic growth.  

The MP is now looking to secure a debate in Parliament calling for major reform of public procurement law. 

The Labour Party has committed to a policy of building in Britain by default if it wins the next General Election. 

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