Ferry service halted following row over £600,000 bill

Liverpool waterfront

A row has broken out over the ferry service between Liverpool and Dublin.

P&O Ferries say the service has been indefinitely delayed after its ship was stopped from leaving the port.

The company has said Peel Ports, which owns Liverpool Port, has presented the ferry company with a sudden demand for payment for a bill for £600,000.

Peel Ports issued a statement which said that “any decision to detain a vessel is always taken as a last resort”.

The service regularly transports food, medicine and other supplies between the two cities.

A spokesman for P&O said: “We have been in open discussions since this crisis began with all of our ports and network to ensure that we can manage payments while everyone deals with this unprecedented situation.

“We had asked for flexibility in the time required to pay but the Liverpool port refused to respond, even though we were committing to full payment.”

“The irresponsible and unnecessary actions of The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company Limited at a time of national crisis have closed an essential Liverpool-Dublin supply route, which means vital goods will not be able to flow between the UK, Ireland and Europe.”

A spokesperson for Peel Ports said: “Customers who refuse to pay their bills put these other supply chains at risk.

“Any decision to detain a vessel is always taken as a last resort and only when there is a significant debt to repay.”

Peel Ports said that the government had announced measures to support companies with “funding issues as a result of Covid-19”.

It said: “Other ferry services from Liverpool to both Dublin and Belfast continue to operate, with multiple departures per day and spare capacity.”

Ulster Unionist Party economy spokesman John Stewart MLA said: “The decision by Peel Ports to detain a P&O Vessel at Liverpool port is inexcusable.”