Ramsgate Port will receive £136,362 as part of Government Brexit resilience plans.
The written ministerial statement was published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government today (February 20) and announces an extra £1.5million of funding – making a total of £3.14million – to be shared between 19 UK ports impacted by the withdrawal from the European Union.
The funding is to “allow them to increase resources to work through the immediate impacts from Brexit, such as ensuring the port’s resilience and potential impacts of greater traffic to surrounding communities.”
The statement from Secretary of State James Brokenshire says: “On 28 January, I announced £56.5 million of new funding to help councils prepare for Brexit as set out in a Written Ministerial Statement on local government Brexit funding. Part of that funding was £1.5 million in 2018/19 to local authorities facing immediate impacts from local ports.
“I am today able to announce an increase of this funding from £1.5m to £3.14m. This additional funding will support those authorities to plan and better mitigate against potential disruptions once we have exited the EU.
“The funding will be divided between 19 district and unitary councils. These allocations are based on recent analysis and engagement and reflect a range of issues including the amount of EU goods managed and the wider strategic importance of these ports.
“As part of the 28 January announcement, I retained £10 million for allocation during 2019/20 to respond to specific local costs that may only become evident in the months after we exit the EU. I will look carefully at any pressures which should be funded, including any emerging pressures relating to port functions or wider impacts on port areas.”
The 19 ports, including Ramsgate and Dover, receive the same sum. An award has also been made for the Channel Tunnel of the same amount.
Craig Mackinlay MP welcomed the news of government funding, saying: ” My understanding is that extra funding is being specifically targeted at areas, like Ramsgate Port, that will potentially have to deal with border management issues.
“I’ve always considered the likelihood of delay at the Dover-Calais crossing to be remote no matter what the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, but Thanet will do what’s in the national interest to assist with Brexit preparedness and we are proud to do so.
“That said, it wouldn’t be right to expect Thanet taxpayers to pay for it, so this money will be very welcome.”
Saga of the port
Earlier this month the government announced the termination of a £13.8million contract with Seaborne Freight to provide extra ferry capacity on its proposed Ostend/Ramsgate route.
The contract was awarded in December as part of resilience plans to ease possible backlogs at Dover Port and the Channel Tunnel – despite Seaborne being a start-up company with no vessels or track record.
The deal was axed this month with government saying Seaborne would not reach its contractual requirements and the firm’s supposed backer Arklow Shipping had pulled out of the deal.
The Seaborne route would have provided 3.8% of the Brexit resilience extra ferry capacity required, with the government buying half of all tickets for the extra crossings.
The contract would have lasted for six months with the option to extend to 12 months. It included a clause that “it would only come into force if the Department provided up to £3 million in funds to Thanet District Council. These funds (were) to enable the completion of works required at Ramsgate port so that Seaborne could operate from it by April 2019.”
Thanet council is yet to agree its 2019-20 budget, which included proposals to ditch £500,000 funding to keep Ramsgate port in readiness for a ferry operation and axe a further £130,000, totalling £630,000 – or £730,000 in a full year -from its 2019/20 budget if no ferry contract was signed.
The budget report was withdrawn on February 7 following discussions between Thanet council leader Bob Bayford (pictured above) and Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling.
Cllr Bayford said that although an ‘uncomfortable decision’ may have to be made to close sections of the port and make cost savings the approach from the Department for Transport would delay that until a date on or before March 11.
A new date to agree the budget has now been set for February 28.
Ramsgate Port has racked up a £20million deficit since 2010.