LIVERPOOL has an unfortunate stereotype associated with it.

A damnable and unfair reputation for pinching the hubcaps and wheels off cars and leaving them propped up on bricks for the shocked owner to discover on his return.

It’s not fair. It’s not right. And any of you out there chuckling at the thought should stop it at once.

But, right now, today, this loathsome calumny has some small merit.

That once great city on the Mersey has designs to make off with great big chunks of Southampton’s cruise business.

Like shell-suited scallies in the night on some sink estate confronted with a rashly parked luxury motor, they have eyed this jewel in Southampton’s crown with rank envy and resolved to have it for their own.

Fair enough, you might think.

What’s the problem? A bit of fair competition never hurt anyone.

And I would agree.

But the key word there is fair.

And Liverpool City Council’s covetous bid to muscle in on Southampton’s territory is anything but.

The howls of protest from the waterfront are not at the temerity to try and take a piece of the action. No, it’s outrage at the cheek of using a £20m taxpayer handout to do it.

In contrast, Southampton has seen a whopping £41m spent on it’s cruise facilities in the past five years but not one penny of that has come from the public purse.

For that investment to be undermined by money paid by you and I and port workers in Southampton is just wrong.

Simple as that.

That a billionaire tax exile is one of the principle beneficiaries of all this just adds bitter insult to considerable injury.

It all started so innocently.

Regeneration was the watchword as they appealed for public funds to build a floating cruise terminal. Not for turnaround cruises though, they assured us.

That would be against European rules on state aid and would have competition issues. As a result, no-one objected, the golden tap was turned on and a river of our hard-earned flooded Mersey docks.

Less than two years later, the scousers’ scurvy scheme is revealed. Never content with a nice little taxpayer funded cashcow on the waterfront, they always harboured dreams of luring the real money to the Mersey.

They showed their spirit with a behind the scenes bid for backing from Portsmouth, promising sycophantic support for the navy city’s own cruise dreams in return.

In short, the whole thing stinks.

In football terms the ‘pool are two tiers above lowly Saints, but when it comes to cruising Southampton is undisputed leader of the Premiership and will fight tooth and nail to avoid another relegation.