Little did I know, when I was writing the article, that this muddleheaded plan was anything more than a failed £6 million funding bid to the South East Local Economic Partnership (SELEP) which would hopefully be cast to one side and forgotten about now that the powers that be have rejected it. Well it hasn’t been! And just like the mythological Hydra which sprouts new heads when one is chopped off, the plan to industrialise Ramsgate Port has come back again – this time in the form of a document called “Economic Growth Strategy for Thanet” produced I am told at a cost of £55,000 by external consultants.
To be discussed next week at a Cabinet meeting by TDCs political leaders, the Economic Strategy includes a section glamorously described as Transformational Initiatives. Top of this list are proposals for Developing the Port at Ramsgate. But there is nothing remotely transformational or glamourous about these proposals. They are no more than a rehash of Labour’s secretly developed Maritime Plan of 2014 and UKIPs failed £6million funding bid which was humiliatingly rejected by the SELEP a couple of months ago.
Once again these discredited proposals for the port are not analysed and tested as to their viability or sustainability. There is no mention of any market testing or demand analysis for a RoRo freight ferry service at Ramsgate. Not a word is said about what the environmental and pollution implications of a freight ferry service and expanded aggregate/ concrete batching operations at the port might have on the town and its protected marine sites. Nor is there any analysis of how an industrialised port and seafront might impact upon Ramsgate’s visitor economy and whether or not more jobs will be created or destroyed in the long-term by embarking upon the proposed changes at Ramsgate Port. And not a word is said about the massive £200million expansion of Dover Harbour which begins next year and how competition from Dover and also the new London Gateway Freight Port on the Thames Estuary might impact upon ferry services from Ramsgate.
Last not but least I was unable to find a single mention of the phrase public consultation anywhere in the Economic Strategy document. Like Labour before them, TDCs UKIP leadership appear to be determined to push through badly thought out plans which are not evidence-based; which haven’t been properly risk assessed; which lack economic analysis and which are hugely unpopular, without any public engagement and without consideration of any alternative ideas for the future of the port and seafront.
This is bad governance in the extreme. The risk of failure is high and the consequences of failure for local people would be massive. Pushing these proposals through would also be grossly hypocritical. As I mentioned before UKIPs 2015 election manifesto says that the party is committed to bringing more transparency and openness to local government; that the community is the boss, and that local people will have more power over planning. Well here we are in the only council in the UK controlled by UKIP and everything they have promised about being a force for democratic good has been thrown out the window in order to push through plans for Ramsgate Port which are economically and environmentally dangerous without any public consultation and without any discussion of alternatives.
Just like Labour the LibDems and the Conservatives, UKIP is firmly part of the political establishment they falsely claim to be challenging. They lie, cheat, bully and deceive just like of the rest of them. And like the rest of the political establishment they only listen to themselves, unless of course their seats at the council are threatened by people power