My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Exclusive Thanet Council Slaps Down It's Ferry Man

Thanet Council has publically slapped down its new Ramsgate Port Consultant Robert Hardy. Appointed, at great expense, just a month ago to resolve the 4 year struggle to find a new ferry operator for the port, Hardy appears to have angered his new bosses by making unauthorised comments about ferry services from Ramsgate in an interview 2 weeks ago.
Speaking to the influential maritime media organisation Shipping TV, Hardy suggests that TDC should purchase and operate its own cross-channel freight ferry and that this something “we might well be doing” and “it’s not as hard as it looks”. Here’s a video clip of Hardy’s comments
In a humiliating slap down for Hardy, Thanet Council issued a press yesterday (Tuesday 25 April) stating that “the Port does not intend to either purchase or operate ships ourselves”. Ouch!
Humiliating Slap Down?
If Thanet Council is not going to purchase or operate its own ships (TDC is almost bankrupt so how could it afford it anyway?), then what is going to happen instead. Well, according to Hardy, there are only a few operators capable of managing a ferry service to and from Ramsgate and “they make a very short telephone  list – Stenna, P&O,  DFS, Grimmladi, Fiinlandia”. He adds prophetically “If you telephone these 5 people you either get a tick next to one of them or the project is on hold”. So does Thanet Council have a tick in the box from a ferry operator? Has Mr Hardy persuaded any of the big 5 ferry companies to set up services from Ramsgate? I don’t think so. If he had succeeded then rather issuing a humiliating slap-down press release, TDC would have been feting Mr Hardy as an all-conquering maritime hero.

I suspect the truth is that there has been no interest in operating a ferry service from Ramsgate and that in Mr Hardy's words "the project is on hold". I also believe that Brett Aggregate's plans to greatly expand the scale of their aggregate operation at the port will be back on the table, the other side of the county council elections. As will secret talks to turn the port into a waste transfer facility. Both of which I strongly oppose.
One final, and massively insulting,  statement in the Hardy slap-down press release is the claim that Ramsgate Port “can now provide  an innovative, cost effective solution that will significantly reduce congestion and CO” emissions”. What utter nonsensical bollocks this is! Goodness knows who approved this statement for publication? Perhaps they had just taken some mind alerting substances because its totally out of touch with reality.
Thanet Council are on record as saying that they want a port that will handle up to 1 million HGVs a year. How can the hundreds of additional daily heavy vehicle movements created by a freight ferry service from Ramsgate reduce congestion and CO2 emissions in the town? How will the hundreds of additional daily heavy vehicle movements created by a freight ferry service from Ramsgate reduce the pollution from nitrous oxide and the deadly PM10 and PM2.5 particulates which the HGVs and ships will be belching out into Ramsgate’s atmosphere. And how will  the hundreds of additional daily heavy vehicle movements created by a freight ferry service from Ramsgate reduce the high number of deaths in Thanet from airborne pollution. Seldom have I seen a public body issue such an ill-considered  press release which describes  a potential pollution nightmare for Ramsgate as something which will reduce congestion and emissions. 
But it's not just the environmental issues I'm worried about its the economics too. It’s clear to anyone who cares to look that if a ferry operator has not come forward to run a service from Ramsgate in the 4 years since TransEuropa went bust,  then it’s very unlikely an operator will come forward now. In the meantime  TDCs own independently audited accounts show that council tax payers have been forced to cover operational losses at the Port of a massive £7.6million over the past 3 years!
In a few weeks times TDCs accounts for 2016-17 will be audited. On the basis of the fact that hardly any activity has been going on the port over the  past 12 months,  I would estimate that another operating loss of at least £2million  will be recorded. This will bring  total operating losses for the port,   in the 4 years since TransEuropa went bust,  up to a staggering £9.6 million!  On top that at least another £3million has been invested in dredging the port and repairing the berths  in the forlorn hope of enticing  a ferry operator who is not coming. That’s a grand total of almost £13million spent on what is, in effect, a ghost port with no future. That’s the equivalent to a subsidy of £176 from each of Thanet’s 68,000 council tax paying households. I sometimes wonder what it will take to persuade TDC’s spendthrift top bosses and politicians that Ramsgate Port’s role as a traditional commercial harbour has long past and that it’s time to look at alternatives.
Perhaps TDCs top bosses and politicians  should take a look at the short video I made a couple of weeks ago (see below), which sets out a future for the port as a leisure area for visitors. I’ve side it before and I will say it again - a leisure focused port would help to kick start Ramsgate’s visitor economy. It could generate £millions in extra income and could create hundreds of jobs and new investment opportunities.  It would also be much less polluting and dirty than the traditional commercial port Most people I speak to now want to see the port transformed into a visitor/ leisure area, so why doesn’t TDC listen, instead of thinking it knows best and wasting £13million of public money. It’s time for a change.
Ramsgate Port A New Future?
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Promoted and published by Ian Driver, 45 Sea View Road, CT101BX. Independent Candidate, Kent County Election, Ramsgate Division. 4th May.

1 comment:

  1. Good points Ian: TDC stuck in the past again. A separate point Colin Grostate is Independent but his ads are paid by J Elenor the KCC Tory councilor?