My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Thanet Council Ferry Stupid Gamble

After losing £3.3million of taxpayers money  in a secret  payments deferral deal with TransEuropa ferries, Thanet Council bosses, like gamblers desperate to recoup their losses, are having one last irresponsible punt at your  expense, to attract a new ferry service to Ramsgate.

According to a recent notice of tender the  Council is  "looking to re-establish a suitable ferry services as a priority at the Port of Ramsgate and any additional business associated with RoRo and port operations. The council invites fee bids for locating and delivering a suitable operator (freight/passenger/combination) to service the Port of Ramsgate to the near Continent.  It is our aspiration that this service should commence as soon as possible but no later than Summer 2014". 

 Confirming that the Council has indeed lost what remained of its Corporate marbles the  front page of the Maritime Journal quotes Harbour Master, Mr Brown, has saying Ramsgate is Port "who's time has come again". Well sorry Mr Brown, sorry Ms McGonigal and sorry Councillor Hart. Ramsgate is a port  which  never had and never will have "its time". The best it ever did was tick over on a life-support machine. And its now time to turn it off.


Ramsgate Port Run Down Needs TLC
Just look at the facts. Over £7 million in subsidies  from the fuel companies, Ostend Port and Thanet's disastorous secret £3.3 million gamble, failed to keep Traseuopa Ferries afloat. Before that the Sally Line service hit the rocks. Doesn't this tell us something? That there is simply no long-term sustainable future for a ferry service operating out of Ramsgate and goodness know the council tax payer of Thanet have paid dearly finding this out.

And why might that be? With due respect to Harbour Master Brown, his otherwise excellent article fails to mention that Ramsgate Port is a run down, ramshackle affair of a continental gateway  which needs many £millions to get it into a decent state. Where is this money going to come from? 


DOVER HARBOUR IMPRESSION OF NEW TERMINAL
But the real issue  which no one appears to want  to talk about is our proximity  to  Euro Tunnel and Dover. How can Ramsgate compete  against these modern transport giants. Especially Dover which is investing more than £400million in updating its existing  infrastructure and building a brand new second ferry terminal. Honestly,  to see a future for Ramsgate Port  in the shadow of these infrastructure colossi is to believe that the world is flat. But what's that I hear - Ramsgate could become a niche port. Again that's nonsense. For niche read dodgy low quality operators managing a fleet of rust buckets who like pirates of old will rip you off. Sounds familiar?

 So come on Thanet Council stop being so Ferry stupid. The Port has amazing potential to become something special. A magnet for inward investment, job creation and a unique  opportunity to do something right  by Ramsgate. But that potential is not as a commercial ferry port, but more likely as a major leisure centre.  

24 comments:

  1. If Port Ramsgate has a viable future then TDC just need to put it up for sale with conditions and let a private owner/operator take the risk. Maybe they will have better luck than the owners of Manston.

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  2. But what leisure use, councillor? Something with a bit more meat otherwise it is no better than looking for another ferry operator.

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  3. I think naked water skiing is the answer at Port Ramsgate - but if Green Party Councillor Ian Driver tries it out first, he will need to call in the Green Peace Rainbow Warrior Ship to prevent the whaling fleet from hunting him ;)

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  4. Drop the mooring fees and turn the harbour over to leisure craft. I know loads of people who want to get into yachting but the mooring fees are far too expensive and there aren't anywhere near enough berths for the interest that's out there. Build up the cross channel trade - there are loads of Dutch who like sailing and they love having a beer and a meal when they get here. You could turn Ramsgate into the sailing capital of the South-East.

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  5. Not entirely sure why you are so glib about Ramsgate port yeah of coarse its difficult to compete and maybe unlikely anyone would wish to operate from there but since it exist why knock it.


    Admittedly Thanet council officers and political overseers could be better but the asset is there and if they dont waste huge sums on marketing it , what is the problem in trying to make something of it.

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  6. If the Council could make a lot of money from fees for having ferries come in it would be great, but perhaps I'm more likely to see pigs fly in to Manston first. Don't see much benefit from having loads of ferry passengers passing through the town either, otherwise surely Dover Town would be thriving with all their ferry passengers, not in a similar shape to most of Thanet. Most cars/lorries just drive straight on out of town and are not 'visitors' to the town spending money.

    Talking about a new ferry service maybe not starting until summer 2014 rings alarm bells and the date could keep getting moved back like flats construction dates elsewhere on the front.

    Alternative uses should be considered as a priority. Would seem like a good spot for leisure with great coast location. Maybe an art gallery and a heritage theme park!

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  7. Not sure - leisure use - really outlines what your proposals for the port consist of Mr. Driver.

    Would you care to be a little more forthcoming with some detail of what you would suggest for a future use for the port?

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    1. Bit confused by the suggestion that berthing pleasure craft in the harbour for free would be the way forward. Who then would foot the bill for the upkeep of the harbour facilities, the dredging of channels and paying staff. Presumably the poor long suffering Thanet council tax payers whilst those wealthy enough to own a boat park up for free. I suppose at least our pensioners, after paying their tax, would have the pleasure of sitting on the sea front watching the idle rich sailing by or sipping cocktails on their motor cruisers. Time for my tablets I think because I am beginning to sound like a socialist!

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  8. Felixstowe commercial port

    What is going on there is a lot of joined up thinking. Increased rail capacity and millions of lorry miles taken off UK roads per year. EU grant. A plan.

    And they are looking to compete with London developments.

    I have read about the thinking there from time to time and even said to my wife "They seem to have a bit of a competitive visionary planner in the mix".

    Then one day I was reading a bit more about the dock and rail ideas. And my brother's name cropped up as a "Consultant". When did he get clever I thought.

    What you need to do is go back to about 1974 and see if you can avail surveys carried out for HMG. If you can get these you will be amazed at the result. That Ramsgate could be the centre of a larger harbour than Aden.

    And this survey looked at using Manston as an oil refinery accessible by rail.

    And maybe a clue to this would be to look if pipeline and storage work for water was dual designed.

    So when you look at your map of Ramsgate roll it out and look at the surrounding coastline ?

    Forget the ferry.





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  9. Today's Gazette front page refers to yet another decision taken in private by TDC. When will he rot of secrecy be terminated in Thanet District Council? Nothing good ever came from the secrecy other than to hide the weaknesses and wrong-doing of TDC's incompetent executives. The sooner total public scrutiny prevails in Thanet Council the sooner the incompetents can be flushed out, and the Council can be run professionally. Are Mark Seed and an unnamed harbour master not the same people who were unable to draw up a Port Plan (page 8 Thanet Gazette 3 Feb 2012) and ended up paying consultants up to twenty thousand pounds for that? What were the contingencies in that plan? Where is it now when it is needed? Why do we continue to pay inflated salaries to Mr Seed and the harbour master when they are so clearly incapable of managing their own port?

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  10. I'm sorry - but this is just point scoring - the cure of Thanet politics.

    Sorry Bill, but you seem to be stuck in the past with a romantic notion that we should return to pounds, shilling and pence because those were "the good old days".

    Well - in the modern world, carbon reduction has been identified as one of the top priorities for the world. Suggest you do a bit of research mate. Either that or shove a bit more coal on your fire, eh?

    Pathetic

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  11. A natural harbour bigger than Aden ? What natural feature could the 1974 survey have been looking at ?


    http://www.kentonline.co.uk/east_kent_mercury/news/2012/december/19/airport.aspx

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  12. TDC enjoy spending tens of thousands on consultancy so they can say they are doing something. First there was the cruise terminal in Pegwell bay- the major re-development of the arches, numerous dredging studies- building houses on the boat park- the alongside quay- the Ernst & Young report- the museum report- the harbour committee-the harbour board the list is endless probably £250K or more over the last 25 years.
    Each report has the same bottom line whatever you are going to do is going to cost money and TDC either doesn't have the wherewithal or the inclination to pursue any of the options put forward.

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  13. It wasn't a gamble to run up the debts. If you gamble and lose there is a penalty. You could lose your money, your home or even your legs. In this case, council officers have lost but there is no penalty. They still get to claim their salaries, allowances and expenses. Moreover when they leave they get a pay-off and a generous pension, all paid for by us. And as there is no penalty there is nothing to stop them doing it all over again. In fact, they may well have done it again already. How would you know that there isn't another company out there which has not paid its dues in an under-the-counter deal ?

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  14. I thought the boats being moored in the harbour were used for leisure. Maybe if TDC had charged less fees the ferry would have been able to continue? The harbour is a great asset but as usual TDC have not invested in it but want to get top fees for its use but provide below quality services.

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  15. This running down of one of our assets needs curbing. Success is about getting the balance right. Sally Line got this about right by providing the right mix of facilities,food, fares, fun and journey times. Don't just knock the route, get reputable lines in who are imaginative and might look at the whole picture rather than just a quick dash across the channel (although Pegwell was a better hoverport than Dover & if fuel efficiency was better one, I'd like to see in use again).Some people suffer claustrophobia, others need a rest in their journey while still on the move, and who needs hassle. What are the Ostend authorities planning? Who is talking to them? What fly and sail options are there? Ramsgate has all the links (no great fun venue sadly), put more effort into working on the problem in a positive frame of mind, please.

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  16. Regarding 17:20, saying that maybe if TDC had charged less fees the ferry would have been able to continue, well the one thing everybody now knows is that even if the ferry paid nothing at all for everything it was provided with for 2 years it still went bust. What we don't know is how this extreme situation came about and that is why we need an independent investigation. After all if the ferry co was paying its bills incl fuel and port charges for a dozen years to 2010, why when it apparently stopped paying any of these did it still fail, where was its revenue stream going to? This is a separate issue to the investigation into TDC who should have acted in 2011 based on the facts in front of them at that time, being that a foreign business had stopped paying them and had already run up a massive unsecured debt, and the time to look for another operator was already passing them by.
    The predominantly freight ferry service did not fail for a lack of investment in the port. The port and harbour is inefficiently managed with too high running costs. The council's management don't know what they are doing with it hence their desperate grasping for consultants.

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  17. Interesting suggestion from Smudger in the IoT Gazette, that John Hamilton is, in fact, a councillor. Given the extent of his output, and the venom directed toward Ian Driver, I think it's pretty important that the truth, or otherwise, of this allegation is rooted out. It's one thing having wackos on the internet, quite another, having them holding positions of responsibility. I imagine it's a matter of public interest to know if a councillor is behaving like this. I would want to know if someone I'd vote for was behaving in this way. I guess the one person who could clear this up quickly for us is John Hamilton himself.

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    1. Simon Moores contribution was "do not waste police time unless a crime has been committed" then he confirmed he hadn't read hamilton's blog

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  18. The harbour is no good, commercially. Over the years ships have got bigger and the drafts deeper. Ramsgate isn't a deep-water port. With the Goodwin Sands just offshore the approach is shallow and hazardous. However, all of these things make Ramsgate ideal for leisure and it seems obvious to me, without any consultants, that the future is to invest in use of the part for leisure craft. However, the whole discussion is academic if they don't invest in dredging the harbour and getting rid of the massive sandbank they have allowed to develop by failing to invest over the years. It is already hard to get a 40 footer in at low tide and people from out of the area don't want to risk their expensive craft grounding as they try to moor up.

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    1. hammy doesn't just attack Ian. There is a list. Along with hosing down pensioner "who smell of wee"

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    2. Nobody suggested he did just attack Ian, Barry, but as this is Ian's site and he is one of the main targets, not unnatural that one should seek his views on the issue.

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    3. I suspect his views are on the line of "any publicity is good" viewpoint. but then he has the courage to stand up in front of his peers unlike hammy

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  19. BBC SE Today shows Sunday 22 Sept TDC Councillor stating TDC are in discussions with a number of ferry companies and that one may be a likely prospect. So what is the position exactly?
    Either they are looking for consultants to find a new ferry operator or they're already shortlisting them? Or will the consultant be someone they know who will get a fat fee out of a fait accompli?

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