Shock in Port as 140 Jobs Go
CRISIS talks have begun after it was revealed Fleetwood’s ferry service to Northern Ireland is being axed, throwing 141 people out of work and raising questions about the future operation of the port.
Ferry company Stena say they cannot make the Fleetwood to Larne route pay and it will finish at the end of the year.
And talks between dock owners Associated Ports (APB), Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw and leader of Wyre Council Coun Peter Gibson are set to tak place today.
Workers have been left stunned by the shock news just before Christmas.
Of those losing their jobs around 50 are from the Fleetwood and Blackpool area. Others are seafarers who come from various parts of the UK.
Docker Phil Cook of Mersey Road, Fleetwood, said: “Rumours have been flying around for ages.
“We got phone messages to come down here to get some important news: that’s how they told us.
“I have worked here six years but as for getting another job, there is nothing round here.”
Richard Edge of Oxford Road, added: “It’s abvolsutely terrible.”
Colin Burman, of Hatfield Avenue, Fleetwood, said: “I used to be a heavy goods driver. I packed that in three years ago to do this and now I’m going to lose my job just before Christmas. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
ABP described the news as “disappointing”, but said they were still in talks with Stena.
A spokesman added: “We are confident the port of Fleetwood will continue to offer a viable facility servicing the Irish Sea roll-on roll-off market.”
Stena said the Fleetwood to Larne route had been suffering “serious losses.”
A spokesman said: “Even operating with older vessels with low capital costs it has been impossible to bring the service to profit and there is no prospect of improvement in this situation in the future.
“Investment in newer tonnage is regrettably not an option as the higher capital costs combined with the operational constraints of a shallow port in Fleetwood would make the losses even worse.”
Consultations are due to take place with staff but the spokesman added: “With no possible way of changing the fortunes of the route we have to take action to stem the losses which have become impossible to support; no business can continue to carry such losses.”
At the same time Stena announced it has acquired Liverpool to Belfast and Heysham to Belfast routes from ferry operators DFDS.
Mr Ollerenshaw said he had contacted Stena to express his anger at the decision which had come without prior warning.
As well as talks with ABP and Wyre Council, he would be meeting ports minister Mike Penning MP.
He said: “We have to look at every way we can to try to find a way through this.
“It’s going to be very difficult to reverse a commercial decision but there are other things to look at such as the employees.
“The service carried 120,000 units a year: that’s trucks and cars. A lot of these people parked up and spent money in Fleetwood so there is that knock-on effect for the cafe businesses and all the rest of it.”
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