My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Manston & Ramsgate. A Tale of 2 Ports

Many people, myself included,  have argued  that Manston Airport and Ramsgate Seaport are economically unsustainable and that they should both be shut down and used for new purposes which will bring benefits for the people of Thanet.
In the case of Manston Airport 2 reports about its economic viability have been commissioned by Thanet Council (TDC) from aviation consultants Falcon and Avia at cost of approximately £100k. The evidence included in these reports has been used by TDC as justification to change the former airport site’s planning designation from aviation only to mixed use. This proposal is now part of the public consultation on TDCs Local Plan and if agreed will allow the council’s planning committee to approve housing and commercial developments to be built on the former airport land.  But what about Ramsgate’s seaport?
Well the approach couldn’t be more different. Having lost an estimated £7.6 million in the 4years  (see my article of 29th December since the collapse of Trans Europa Ferries in April 2013, and facing the prospect of overwhelming competition from Dover Harbour, which begins a £200million improvement and expansion programme later this year, not a penny has been spent by TDC, on commissioning a report on the future economic viability of Ramsgate seaport, nor has there been any public consultation about options for its future use.
It’s astounding that a council which adopted an objective, evidence based, approach towards determining the future of Manston Airport, which it doesn’t own, has not applied the same rules to working out what might be the best options for the future of Ramsgate port, which it does own.  It’s even more astonishing to compare the massive amount of officer and councillor time spent on writing reports and discussing the viability and future of Manston Airport over the past 3 years, with the miniscule time and effort expended by TDC, its officers, and councillors on considering the viability and future of Ramsgate Port.
Last but not least we have  UKIP Council Leader, Chris Wells’ oft-repeated mantra that TDCs current financial problems result from his Labour Party predecessors having recklessly squandered  £14.5 million of taxpayers money  through poor planning and bad decision making. Whilst this is undoubtedly true, Wells is now hypocritically aping Labour by making his own reckless decisions about Ramsgate port  based upon guesswork and wishful thinking rather than solid evidence. Without any independent economic analysis of the future viability of a commercial port operation at Ramsgate, without any consideration of, or public debate about, alternative use options for the port Wells is now gambling a rumoured £6million of taxpayers money on refurbishing the port in the forlorn hope of attracting a passing ferry to ply its trade from Ramsgate.
Or does his apparently  reckless spending belie the more cynical purpose of deceitfully sneaking  into the port, under the guise of preparations for a non-existent ferry operation, a massive expansion  in Brett’s aggregate processing  operations and the possible introduction of a  major waste transfer operation at the port to feed an energy from waste incinerator somewhere nearby? I think I know the answer to this and it’s nothing to do with ferries.  
But whatever the truth might be the bottom line is that the people of Ramsgate deserve to be treated with more respect by their politicians. Instead of having major decisions about the future of their  port forced  on them from above by arrogant, democracy-dodging, out of touch politicians, such as Labour’s 2014 secretive Maritime Plan,  there should be a major public consultation based upon impartial,independent evidence about all the available options. That’s more or less what happened with Manston Airport so why can’t it happen with Ramsgate seaport?  
After all UKIPs 2016 local council manifesto said local communities should  have “more say over what happens in your street, village, town and City. We offer an alternative of direct democracy and empowering the people who elect us. UKIP is putting democracy back into local government”. So come on Chris Wells its time to practice what you preach and lets have some “empowering local democracy” in Ramsgate beginning with a an informed debate and consultation on the future of Ramsgate Port instead of sneaking in your expensive, untested and non-evaluated ideas  under the radar.  

1 comment:

  1. Wells is a disgrace - blatant porkies over reopening Manston and now porkies over a ferry rather than Brett. He must explain both or go. He's had almost 2 years and done nothing - so why tax increases?