Thanet Green Party Councillor, Ian Driver, has warned that the Port of Ramsgate is “teetering on the verge of financial collapse".
According to figures released to Driver following a Freedom of Information Request, the Port generated £2,301,631 income in the financial year 2012-13. But in the financial year 2013-14 income plummeted to just £570,570. A staggering drop of £1.73 million; 75% less than the previous year’s earnings!
Said Driver “This extraordinary drop in income is explained by the 2103 TransEuropa Ferries scandal when, following a secret payment deferral deal approved by TDCs Labour Cabinet, the company collapsed owing the Council £3.4 million in unpaid bills. But more than year later, and despite having hired a specialist maritime industry consultant, the Council has failed to attract a new ferry operator or significant alternative business for the port”.
“I would be surprised if the £570,000 income generated by the Port in the last financial year, came anywhere close to covering its day-to-day operating costs. In fact, like Manston Airport, I reckon the port is racking up astronomic daily operating losses, which can’t carry on for much longer. Its time for TDC to learn from the Manston Airport saga and begin to develop a new, imaginative business plan which will provide a financially robust and sustainable future for the port, before its too late”.
TDC’s plans to rejuvenate the port include a £7million investment to modernise facilities and develop an “alongside” quay to attract new ferry operators, cruise liners and container vessels. Driver, has dismissed these plans as the “unimaginative re-workings of the same old same old ideas ".
“Less than 20 miles away the Port of Dover has begun to invest close to £100 million in massively expanding its capacity to handle ferries and liners. Only 75 mile away, the huge, ultra-modern, London Gateway freight terminal recently opened for business. There is no way that Ramsgate Port could hope to compete against these maritime colossi”.
“In my opinion Thanet Council should re-think its plans and invest in transforming Ramsgate’s Port and Harbour into a state of the art 21st century marina and sea sports centre. A modern marina and sea sports centre would attract hundreds of thousands of new visitors from the UK, Europe and across the world who will spend their money in the town’s shops, bars, restaurants and hotels. The marina could be linked into a joined up plan to tackle the Pleausurama eyesore and associated seafront decline This would be a major shot in the arm for Ramsgate which will create hundreds of jobs and new business opportunities. I am sure it will be possible to secure EU, KCC and Government funding to pay for a major project such as this”.
“its time to be imaginative and bold rather than re-inventing the past, which has been proved by recent and bitter experience to no-longer be feasible in Ramsgate. A sharp focus on modern leisure use is what will put Ramsgate back on the map!