Former Green Party councillor, Ian Driver, has called for Thanet Council (TDC) to launch a major public consultation on the future of the port of Ramsgate which will explore and develop options for a long term, sustainable and profitable, plan for its future.Driver’s proposals follow revelations on his blogsite that Ramsgate Port has made losses of £13.4 million over the past 3 years.
In the financial year 2013-14 the port ran up a deficit of £6.056 million following the bankruptcy of Trans Europa Ferries which, as a result of a secret fees and charges deferral deal agreed by TDCs Labour and Conservative administrations, collapsed owing the council £3.4million in unpaid bills.
In the financial year 2014-15 the port ran up a deficit of £3.9 million and, according to the latest draft accounts for 2015-16 which were published on Thanet Council’s website on 1 July, the port has, despite its car importation contract with GEFCO, run up a deficit of £3.4 million, bringing the total deficit for the past 3 years to a staggering £13.4 million – the equivalent of £96 for every man, woman child in Thanet.
Said Driver “I have been arguing for a long time that the Port of Ramsgate is finished. It is economically unsustainable and has no long term future. There is no way that the port can compete against nearby Dover Harbour which is currently undergoing a £150million re-development programme to massively increase its ferry, freight and cruise liner capacity. 75 miles away from Ramsgate the newly opened, state of the art, London Gateway Freight Terminal at Thurrock will also take freight trade from Ramsgate.
We now need to look at alternative uses for the port such as a modern 21st century marina for pleasure craft and sea sports which could supplement and increase the capacity of the Royal Harbour and still allow for the fishing and wind farm vessels. There are many examples of successful marinas on the south coast such as Brighton, Eastbourne, Littlehampton and Lymington. Even Ramsgate’s own Royal Harbour made a profit of £75,000 in 2015-16!
Although it would it be very expensive to transform the port into a marina, TDC could borrow money, secure Government development loans and grants, and enter into partnership deals with the private sector to secure the £20-30million which a project on this scale is likely to require. The benefits for Ramsgate and Thanet as a whole would be enormous. The thousands of extra tourists attracted by a Ramsgate marina would be spending their money in the local economy creating hundreds of new jobs and business opportunities for locals and inward investors alike.Exploring and developing ideas such as a modern marina through a major public consultation could well transform for the future for what it a silted-up, derelict excuse for a port which is a massive drain on the resources of a council with a very tight budget. Its time for new thinking about Ramsgate's port and who better to do it than local people”.
Here's a short film I made about the Port in April 2015 which is a bit out of date but the message is still good.