• Save Rimrose Valley

PRESS RELEASE: Peel Ports’ letter ‘a PR disaster’ and an ‘insult’ claims campaign group

The Save Rimrose Valley campaign has branded an open letter [1] from Peel Ports’ an insult to the intelligence of those living in communities next to the Port of Liverpool and a ‘PR disaster’.

Image: Peel Ports

The letter was written in response to the campaign’s recent calls [2] for Peel Ports to withdraw their support for National Highways’ A5036 Port of Liverpool Access Road project [3]. They asked the port’s operators to push for sustainable solutions to the movement of freight in and out of the port instead. It was hand delivered as part of the campaign’s latest high-profile action [4].

Public and political opposition to the government’s Port of Liverpool Access Road continues to grow with a huge turnout to the campaign’s rally and march, including Sefton Councillors and MPs Peter Dowd and Bill Esterson.



However, Peel Ports’ CEO, Mark Whitworth, (pictured above) refuted the campaign’s claim that his company is behind the road proposal, writing:


“I cannot stress strongly enough that your ongoing attempt to paint our organisation as the main driver behind this project is misplaced and misleading.”


Stuart Bennett of the Save Rimrose Valley campaign responded, saying:

"Peel Ports' letter is not only an insult to the intelligence of local people; it is a PR disaster. They refer to National Highways' Port of Liverpool Access Scheme as the 'Sefton Relief Road' in a frankly embarrassing attempt to deflect attention away from their major stake in the project.

“They deny being the driving force behind the road proposal yet spend 5 pages telling us exactly why they believe it is needed. It would be laughable if the implications for our communities weren't so serious.

"Perhaps most embarrassingly of all, their statements contradict emails from their own company obtained via Freedom of Information Requests [5] which reveal that they 'worked tirelessly' to secure government funding for the project and even offered support to National Highways during Sefton Council's legal challenge against the scheme. If this doesn't demonstrate their level of influence, we don't know what does? Is it right and proper that a privately owned company with a direct interest in a publicly funded project should do either of these things?

"People will see Peel Ports' letter for exactly what it is; smoke and mirrors from a company that is completely detached from the reality of those living in the shadows of the port's cranes. A company that stands to benefit the most from this project. Tellingly, health and wellbeing aren't mentioned once in their reply and they seemingly dismiss Sefton Council's ongoing efforts [6] to find a better solution for all parties.

"They have made their position quite clear. Thankfully, we and our supporters did the same at our recent demonstration. People have had enough of Peel Ports’ indifference towards our health and our environment. Our campaign will continue until this road is stopped and the port is made accountable for its actions.”

The next planning stage for the roadbuilding project is a consultation on the route in spring 2022. Save Rimrose Valley will be calling on the public to register their objections at this time and to reject the road proposal outright.

References

[1] Link to open letter from Peel Ports to Save Rimrose Valley/Rimrose Valley Friends:

An Open Letter: Peel Ports’ response (saverimrosevalley.org)


[2] Link to letter from Save Rimrose Valley/Rimrose Valley Friends to Peel Ports:

Our letter to Peel Ports (saverimrosevalley.org)


[3] Link to summary of Port of Liverpool Access Scheme:

A5036 Port of Liverpool access - Highways England


[4] Press Release on Port of Liverpool Demonstration:

PRESS RELEASE: Campaigners disrupt Port of Liverpool to highlight its role in road proposal (saverimrosevalley.org)


[5] Link to FOI requests containing email conversations between Peel Ports staff and National Highways (formerly Highways England)

FOI Request: Highways England, Peel Ports& The A5036 Port of Liverpool Access Scheme (saverimrosevalley.org)


[6] Link to Sefton Council’s ARUP report which documents viable and sustainable alternatives to the movement of freight containers in and out of ports, which our campaign supports

ARUP Inland Port & Connectivity Concept June 2020

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