Memorandum by the Creekside Forum (TT
1. We are a small community group based
in Deptford, south-east London. Our interest in this matter is
explained in Annex 1.
2. We attended the committee's evidence
session on 23 June 2004 and read the written submissions that
were available. We were disappointed by the very limited amount
of evidence regarding cruise ships. The leisure cruise industry
has grown enormously over the last two decades.
3. Over the last three years we have become
aware of both the general lack of awareness in the UK of how successful
the international cruise liner industry is and some ambivalence
to the idea that this country might enjoy its share of the economic
benefits. Reference has been made elsewhereto
the maritime sector having ". . . slipped below people's
radar". Over recent decades freight handling has moved out
of our major cities to estuarine and coastal ports far away from
the eyes of both print journalism and the electronic media.
4. Cruise liners are the most visible of
ships, drawing the public's eye wherever they moor. This is in
the heart of major cities to a far greater extent than cargo vessels.
The Queen Mary 2, flying the Red Ensign, has raised the
profile of British shipping everywhere she has travelled both
at home and abroad.
5. Crewing levels on cargo vessels have
greatly diminished in recent years. Paying passengers, however,
are disinclined to travel on vessels that appear to them to be
understaffed. As a general rule of thumb cruise ships are staffed
at a ratio of about one crew member per two passengers. Individual
cruise liners create more seagoing employment than a fleet of
cargo vessels. Minerva II, named in London last year and
returning this summer, has a crew capacity of 376. The Europa
and the Silver Cloud, both due in London this August,
have crew capacities of 264 and 210 respectively.
6. Passenger perceptions are a relevant
issue in the flagging of cruise ships. The Maritime and Coastguard
Agency (MCA) operate a robust inspection regime which ensures
that UK registered vessels are maintained and operated to a high
standard. The government might do more to ensure that this quality
assurance aspect of UK registration is known both to the international
travel industry and through them seagoing passengers. In conjunction
with the tonnage tax more cruise ships might be attracted to UK
registration and management.
7. Raised in isolation, the question of
onboard marriages contributes to an image of cruise liners being
peripheral to the UK shipping industry. This is somewhat unfortunate.
In context marriage cruises are a discreet sector of the world
cruise offer. Given the breadth of inspections carried out by
the MCA, ensuring that the onboard wedding chapel is up to the
same standard as any premises licensed for marriages in England
would seem a simple and straightforward task. As many UK citizens
are presently getting married on foreign registered vessels it
is hard to see any principled objection to such marriages onboard
British registered cruise ships.
8. There is a stark contrast between the
venerable British shipping institutions and the younger and brasher
international cruise liner industry. Whilst the UK shipping institutions
appear to be almost entirely dominated by men in dark suits there
are many women owners and senior managers in the cruise industry.
The Government should monitor the issue so as to ensure that it
is not a barrier to cruise lines registering their ships in the
UK or locating their strategic management here.
9. A civil servant giving evidence to the
committee on the 23rd referred to tracking officer cadets by name.
She would therefore already have a reasonable idea of the gender
and ethnicity of those currently being trained. As this training
is effectively provided at the UK taxpayers' expense it is particularly
important that the government should ensure equality of opportunity
for citizens seeking to embark on a maritime career. The collation
and publication of relevant statistics would be a first step in
10. It is vitally important to the health
of the British shipping industry as a whole that the government
ensures that the opportunities afforded by the tonnage tax are
as open to cruise lines as any other part of the shipping industry.
11. The international cruise liner industry
is a dynamic and growing sector of world shipping. Highly profitable
and employing large numbers of seafarers we are surprised that
it has such a low UK policy profile. Might we be so bold as to
suggest that, at its earliest convenience, the committee holds
an inquiry into whether the UK is taking proper advantage of the
extensive economic opportunities afforded by the cruise liner
1. The Creekside Forum was established in
1997 as a joint sub-committee of Deptford Community Forum and
Greenwich Waterfront Community Forum in order to give local people
a voice in the Building Bridges Creekside SRB2. The SRB
project has long since finished and the now independent Creekside
Forum finds itself at the centre of a maelstrom of developer interest.
Our current membership is around 300 individuals and organisations.
2. The largest individual development site
in the area is Convoys Wharf, which until early 2000 handled imports
of newsprint. During the early 1990s tonnages steadily increased
and there were aspirations of reaching one million tonnes per
annum. However in the late 1990s the Greenwich Lorry Ban was introduced
which added considerably to the time and cost of delivering paper
landed at the wharf and the trade moved to Felixstowe and Chatham.
3. In late 2000 it became apparent that
the site owners intended to seek planning permission for residential
development prior to disposal of the site. Since that time we
have facilitated a regular gathering, under the name Convoys Opportunity,
of community organisations, churches, businesses and others to
ensure a local say in the future of site.
4. A clear aspiration to maximise employment
arose from these meetings. Out of that desire emerged the idea
of locating London's long wished for cruise liner terminalon
the 25 acres (just over half the site) protected for freight use.
The safeguarding order was originally made by John Gummer in 1997
and confirmed by John Prescott in 2000 when the office of Mayor
of London was created. London Plan policies include a sequential
test (4C 106) that whereby when a wharf is no longer viable for
freight use then other maritime uses should be considered first.
5. The Port of London Authority (PLA) are
now taking the lead in progressing plans to develop a permanent
cruise liner facility at Convoys Wharf. They have commissioned
engineering and marketing reports that have confirmed the physical
suitability of the wharf and that such a facility would attract
over a hundred liners per year. The Chair, Simon Sherrard, and
the Chief Executive, Steve Cuthbert have publicly set out the
need for a permanent cruise liner terminal on a number of occasions
and have made clear that Convoys is their preferred site.
Such a cruise liner terminal would give both
the Port of London and the international shipping community a
visible focus within the capital that has been lacking for decades.
6. It is that visible focus that we are
promoting, at a regional level, in response to the planning application
by Richard Rogers Partnership (RRP), for 3,500 residential units.
At a local level we are concentrating on the employment and other
economic opportunities arising from the terminal and other marine
uses. RRP's application is likely to be considered by Lewisham
Council's planning committee in September or October this year.
2 Bosses launch distress flare over recruitment as
old seadogs fade away; Guardian, 21 June 2004. Back
Crew capacity figures from Convoys Wharf Cruise Terminal Feasibility
Assessment: Locum Destination Consulting for the Port of London
Authority, October 2003. Back
See River Thames Working Party report 1994 (Chaired by Steve Norris,
then Minister for Transport in London). Back