Stena: Fleetwood’s port is dilapidated

Sailing out...the last Stena Line ferry leaves Fleetwood
Sailing out...the last Stena Line ferry leaves Fleetwood

PORT facilities at Fleetwood have been condemned as substandard by Stena as the company justified its decision to quit the town.

The issue was brought up in a report to the Competition Commission, which also cited the poor condition of ageing shops and tidal problems in the River Wyre.

Associated British Ports, which owns the port, has declined to comment on the report.

The commission is looking at the Fleetwood situation as it investigates Stena’s acquisition of DFDS Seaways routes in the Irish Sea. The Office of Fair Trading has called for the probe because it believes competition may have been distorted.

Stena insist they gave Associated British Ports six months’ notice of the decision, which cost 50 local jobs.

The company said: “The facilities for passengers and drivers are dilapidated and substandard.

“Refreshments are not available on-site, but only in the town of Fleetwood.

“The location of the port is poor compared to Heysham and Liverpool – further from the motorway network and accessible only via the town.”

They outline efforts to keep the route to Northern Ireland going but said eventually the company could not stand the losses on the service.

The report said when they acquired the Fleetwood route it compared reasonably with competitors. But then there was a severe economic downturn, significant increase in fuel costs and better vessels introduced by competitors working out of Heysham.

Between 2005 and 2007 the company looked at getting new vessels and even considered building new bespoke vessels which could have coped with the low tides at Fleetwood. But that was put on hold due to the global economic crisis and rising oil prices.

Stena says there is nothing to suggest a link between the closure of Fleetwood and the purchase of the DFDS routes.

The Commission is set to report its findings by July 25.