Saturday, 2 February 2019

Ramsgate ferry service deal deadline looms between Seaborne Freight and Thanet District Council

By Matt Leclere

Time is running out to reach a deal for a new freight ferry service planned to run from Ramsgate.
Thanet District Council and Seaborne Freight continue to negotiate but the council has set a deadline of tomorrow to have a contract in place, otherwise it says it will pull £730,000 of funding from the port in the next year.
TDC, which owns and runs the port, says if the deal is not confirmed when it publishes its final budget report this week, the savings will be made.
A leaked email sent by council leader Bob Bayford (Con) said the council and Seaborne had progressed with discussions in recent weeks.
He added: “This is a time-critical position led by the council’s responsibility, and requirement by law, to deliver a balanced budget.
"Our aspiration is to achieve the savings required through income generated from port operations.
"Should this not emerge however, then there will have to be a reduction in costs.”
Seaborne says it is in the final stages of its preparations for the ferry service to Ostend to start in March 2019 - after the UK leaves the EU.
Kevin Root, spokesman for Seaborne, said: “Our plans to reintroduce the Ramsgate to Ostend freight ferry service are progressing well, with services due to commence in March 2019.
“Vessel and port agreements are at an advanced stage and dredging in the Port of Ramsgate is nearing completion.
“The work is weather dependent, but we expect to finish very close to schedule.”
The ferry firm posted job adverts on its website this week for stevedore and operation assistant roles.
TDC did not respond to a request for a comment on the contract negotiations.

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