Cruise ships will see Berwick become Dubrovnik of Northumberland, says council chief

Bringing cruise ships to Berwick will see visitors making comparisons with the popular resort of Dubrovnik, Northumberland County Council’s leader has said.

By Ben O'Connell
Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 8:49 am

Northumberland’s ruling cabinet has agreed a £400,000 grant to provide coach parking, as part of an ambitious wider scheme at the port of Berwick.

Council leader Peter Jackson said during a recent visit, he was informed that those arriving into Berwick by sea may get the most attractive view of the town, going on to mention Dubrovnik.

The Croatian city is a popular tourist attraction on the Adriatic Sea known for its old town surrounded by large stone walls.

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Council leader Peter Jackson with Berwick Harbour Commission chief executive Alan Irving.

The grant comes on the back of Berwick Harbour Commission’s (BHC) successful 2017 bid for £2million from the Coastal Communities Fund to carry out essential works to secure its future as a viable working port and a key part of the local economy.

The report to the cabinet explained that the council subsequently considered a £400,000 loan application from BHC, but this was eventually refused in December, ‘due to poor financial performance of the port and a consequent concern about the ability of the port to meet repayments’.

However, at the same time as the loan process, discussions continued during 2019 in relation to the provision of additional coach parking, which could also be used to serve the town centre.

The report adds: ‘The economic and regeneration benefits of the scheme to the wider town have been significantly improved over the summer, because of the confirmation that cruise ships will now be visiting Berwick.”

The funding is conditional on BHC entering into an option agreement with the council to lease part of the site, should the neighbouring land be acquired and used to create a larger, integrated coach/car park.

Coun Cath Homer, the cabinet member for tourism, said: “I think what’s really great about this project is the excitement in the town about it. It’s a great project and I just like that it’s future-proofed.”

Coun Richard Wearmouth, cabinet member for economic development, added: “Coach parking has been a long-running saga, which previously tripped up one of the previous councillors, so it’s great to see we are getting a solution to this one.”