Our work with Labour's Shadow Transport team
Updated: Mar 15
Last month, we wrote to Shadow Transport Secretary, Louise Haigh MP (pictured), on the back of the Labour Party Conference being hosted here in Liverpool.
In the time since, we have seen two new Prime Ministers, two new Transport Secretaries and a government coming very close to collapse.
This brings into focus the prospect of an early general election (the next official "due date" is no later than Jan 2025), which is the exact reason we have been engaging with The Labour Party's Shadow Transport team not just now, but throughout our years of campaigning.
In the interests of balance, we have also contacted the Transport spokespeople for the Liberal Democrats and The Green Party during this time.
We're happy to report that Louise Haigh's office has now acknowledged our letter, which is why we felt able to share it below.
Crucially, they have advised that the views expressed by Mike Kane MP, Shadow Minister for Aviation, Maritime and Security, during September's Westminster Hall debate is reflective of The Labour Party's position.
This is significant, given that Mike Kane was forthright in his views on the road proposal.
Whilst acknowledging the importance of the Port of Liverpool to the local and regional economy and welcoming Peel's investment, he caveated this with the following statements:
"As shadow maritime Minister, my colleagues and I will always welcome efforts to improve infrastructure to support the economic growth of the maritime sector. However, in my view, these plans are not ambitious enough, particularly when measured against the Government’s own green agenda and that of National Highways.
"Residents living near the port already have a low life expectancy. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bootle said, it is 12 years lower than the national average. South Sefton already experiences some of the worst air quality in the country. The transport sector is the UK’s single biggest contributor of CO2 emissions. It is also the only sector in which we have seen emissions go up, not down. A new road being constructed would only increase port-related traffic, with HGVs being the worst polluters on our roads. There has to be a better way of doing this.
"I have spoken with local elected representatives, who I believe are best placed to understand the unique issues associated with a port operating alongside their residential communities. Government cannot just set up city regional Mayors in Greater Manchester, Sheffield, Doncaster and Liverpool and then ignore the powers they have given them. Local politicians and the people they represent are best placed to help fashion local policies and transport infrastructure.
"We must look at alternatives to the scheme, and listen to councillors, MPs, the Metro Mayor and local residents, but there is a more fundamental issue: building a road through a valued green space is a very 1980s answer to the issue of road congestion. It is a “one more lane will solve it” attitude, but we know that one more lane does not solve things because of the impact of induced demand; we know that if we build more roads, we will attract more traffic.
"The money allocated to this project could and should be spent on sustainable solutions to port access, such as rail freight capacity, not least because of the climate emergency that we are facing, the public health crisis associated with air pollution, and the substantial loss and degradation of green space. A new road is not the solution, when we can be creative, as we have been at the port of Liverpool, with a purpose-built rail terminal on the banks of the ship canal, allowing co-ordinated onward transport.
"The campaigners are not seeking merely to shift the issue from Rimrose Valley, away from the A5036 and on to another borough or area. They are keen to find the right solutions, the best technology, the right route and the right location. It is my view that we should support them and my hon. Friend the Member for Bootle in doing so."
You can read Mike Kane's contribution to the debate in full here and our letter to Louise Haigh, below.
All of which gives us something to build on.
As a campaign, we feel we've done as much as we can to ensure that the issues around access to the Port of Liverpool are on the radar of the Shadow Cabinet.
Historically, Conservative governments have not been kind to Liverpool. A general election - and a different result - could well be our best chance of securing a better outcome for communities across South Sefton.