Council accounts record another £2.5 million loss at Ramsgate Port

Ramsgate Port Photo John Horton

Ramsgate Port recorded a deficit of just over £2.5 million in 2018/19 according to Thanet council’s latest draft accounts.

The amount brings the total losses at Ramsgate Port to £22 million since 2010. The amount includes £3.4million in unpaid berthing fees from bankrupt TransEuropa Ferries and £1.4 million of compensation paid to live animal exporters following a High Court order. However, the total paid in compensation rose to around £5million.

In September 2012 Thanet District Council imposed a ban on livestock shipments from the port of Ramsgate. The ban, which lasted for a period of just over a month, had been imposed under section 40 of the Harbours Act 1964 in response to a distressing incident on 12 September 2012 which had resulted in the death of approximately 45 sheep.

The council was subsequently found by the High Court to have acted in breach of regulations and it ruled the authority was therefore liable to pay damages and compensation to exporters affected by the ban.

By August 2017 the council confirmed it had paid out compensation of £4,69 million.

For 2018/19 the draft accounts show port expenditure of £3,584million and income of £1,073million.

A loss for Ramsgate Harbour has been recorded.

The latest financial year also shows Ramsgate harbour, which has previously recorded a small profit, has also suffered losses.

In 2017/18 a £227,000 surplus was recorded but for 2018/19 the accounts show a loss of £294,000. Expenditure was £2,695 million but income only amounted to £2,401 million.

Broadstairs harbour showed a small profit of £88,000 while Margate recorded a loss of £18,000.

In all Thanet port and harbours recorded a deficit of approximately £2.7million. However the draft accounts state: “However, this position includes items that do not impact the service or council tax payers. After removing accounting adjustments for capital purposes and pension accounting the service recorded a loss of approximately £300k from a funding perspective. Furthermore, this position includes a £230k allocation for corporate overheads.”

Former councillor Ian Driver, who has been following the port accounting,  says the deficit is “probably one of the largest losses ever incurred by a local council in  recent history.”

Port funding cuts

The 2019/20 budget, agreed by the council in February, slashed £500,000 out of spending plans for Ramsgate Port and another £130,000 of savings for this year making £630,000 (£730,000 for a full year) in cuts, in a bid to stem losses.

The £500,000 reduction means the port is no longer in a state of ‘readiness’ for ferry operations. The decision was made following the saga of Seaborne Freight proposals for a Ramsgate/Ostend ferry service which, in December, saw the firm awarded a £13.8 million government contract for extra ‘Brexit-resilience’ crossings despite having no ferries and no company track record.

The government ditched the deal in February after saying backers for Seaborne had pulled out. The news came amid mounting pressure from politicians, media and reports from the National Audit Office that revealed Seaborne Freight was flagged as being a ‘high risk proposition’ before it was awarded the post-Brexit extra capacity contract.

The last successful ferry operation was run by Sally Line Ferries. Sally ceased operations in 1998.

Car imports at Ramsgate Photo Simon Piggott

Income at the port includes berthing fees, pilotage, waste disposal, equipment hire and land rental – including to building materials supplier Brett Aggregrates – and ad hoc car shipments when other sites are over capacity.

Thanet council pays a £246,000 lease fee to Crown Estates for the land.

Thanet council says some £40,000 is earmarked for a feasibility study of the port to be carried out before the end of the year.T

Thanet council leader Bob Bayford took over responsibility for Ramsgate port and harbour portfolio last year and retains that responsibility following his re-election this month.

He previously said: “The Port of Ramsgate is one of our most valuable assets and its future is a priority for Thanet District Council. In reflection of this I have recently taken on the Maritime portfolio to oversee the development of a new strategic direction, with the principle aim to create a viable enterprise.”

Port deficit

2018-19 £2.511

2017-18   £1.86m

2016-17 £2.249m

2015-16  £3.44m

2014-15 £3,9m

2013-14  £6m – includes the write off of the TransEuropa Ferries berthing debt (£3.4m) and the High Court ordered animal export ban compensation (£1.4m)

2012-13 £1.86m

2011-12  £866,000

2010-11 £4.35m minus £3.68m ‘impairment’ leaving a £671,000 loss


  1. As a now ex-Councillor, I would just like to record here how hard some of us tried to reverse this appalling trend and record. We finally had agreement of full Council for a feasibility study on the Port for 2019 and it can’t come soon enough. There is a creative, economically feasible vision, with lots of sound options, and why it has not been brought forward sooner is not only indefensible it makes no sense at all. There are 20m+ reasons for saying that, not to mention the loss of opportunity, income, community and marine facilities. The time has come to put this right with energy and commitment.

    • Beverly The Bretts planning consent was unlawful. It should now be brought to issue when TDC finally take on board that the toxic hazard to health from Manston contamination is not just water borne but is airborne

      The feasibility study for a vision is a further waste of money for the same reason

  2. Kick out Brett and build a smaller version of Eastbourne’s sovereign harbour with Luxury flats, shops and restaurants.
    Thanet councillors need to stop smoking crack and Stop wasting Thanet residents money on the port and the airport.

    • Oh God no! Not some tacky, badly-designed, ridiculously expensive development! Can’t the council find some small industries for the port area?

      Meanwhile, could the Isle of Thanet News publish, please, an impartial and factually accurate article about Brett’s, as I for one don’t know the history of this company and would like to know, among other things, how polluting it is. Thanks.

  3. Why kick out Brett? What have they done to be the target of such an engineered vendetta?
    And the last thing Ramsgate wants or needs is some ghastly chic twee WWX on sea. It would be quite out of keeping with the town in general and the Royal Harbour in particular.

    • dear dear tony who built wwx wants seeing to it is the dump of broadstairs and not even undercover another waste of money
      the biggest waste of money is not what you call a vendetta I went to that meeting but the decision had already been made for Bretts snidey councillors is a waste of our money and has been since 1972. Your officers and the councilors debt not the peoples we trust the council but I sadly do not trust them as far as I could throw them into so many studies over the years and promises made by the council you are a disgrace. Shame on you for allowing the ferries a secret debt I have read the report shame on all of you and time we had a call in because you cannot be trusted with our taxes any more time you lot resigned

  4. Tony, I believe that the council earns virtually nothing from Brett even though they are sitting on prime real estate. Have you ever been to sovereign harbour? It’s gorgeous and has provided wealth, jobs and rejuvenated the area.
    It’s time to stop living in the past and move on. Progress is not a bad thing. Thanet should be more than it’s Drunks, junkies, shabby high streets and run down housing stock. It’s time to raise expectations and make the most of our assets. The younger generations don’t care about crumbling, antiquated Victorian architecture, they want modern homes.
    A development similar to Sovereign harbour built next to the Royal harbour would only add to the appeal of the harbour and attract more boats and more money to the local community.

    • that is the only thing the council and its officers can do because they do not have a clue but they are hell bent on making this town heavily in debt bring in the CEO and past and ones and make them answer questions in court shame on the council now and then and since 1972 you lot could not organise a piss up in a frank thorley pub! You only know how to deal with offshore panama companies that are money launders and I have proof ….down with the council. Who need to brought in over the 20 years wait for the sea front you lot destroy and I asked you a few years ago if you were money laundering and you said no well the panama papers prove you were dealing with this crime …

    • I haven’t been to “Sovereign Harbour”. So, according to you, TDC does make some money from Bretts.
      Forgive me if I have misunderstood something, but I was under the impression the the charm of Ramsgate was its 500 odd listed buildings, many of which predate even Queen Victoria.
      I’ve just looked at some web pages devoted to “Sovereign Harbour”, and it looks absolutely ghastly. You could be anywhere. No character. Nothing special. Just bland ,tacky Mickey Mouse boxes.
      Ramsgate deserves better than that.

  5. Your right Tony, why would Ramsgate want to change a winning formula, Ramsgate boasts high unemployment, crumbling buildings, drunks puking and smashing bottles in the streets, the smell of cannabis in every road, junkies stoned on every corner, feral kids and let’s not forget the chewing gum and broken glass littered streets that only get cleaned twice a year.
    Ramsgate needs to reinvented and modernise not be left to die a slow lingering death trying to cling on to long gone glory days.
    Yes Ramsgate has got loads of potential but clinging on to bygone eras is not the answer. I honestly don’t think anyone under the age of forty would genuinely come to Ramsgate for a sightseeing tour of its decaying listed buildings and boarded up high street. Living in the shadow of the past is not the future.
    I also find it comical how you can call an area ghastly and criticise somewhere you have never visited and have only glimpsed in a photo. Perhaps you should actually visit an area and then you could have an informed opinion rather than a knee jerk assumption based on zero first hand knowledge.

    • “Concerned” is greatly exaggerating the bad aspects of Ramsgate.

      I looked at the google maos satellite view of Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne, which has a large carpark and a “retail centre”. I also looked at some properties there which were listed on Zoopla. One was a four-bedroom flat listed at £1,100,000. Another was a detached house with I forget how many bedrooms- over £500.000.

      I’d rather look at a working port, or a no longer working much port with a lot of light industry on its site.

      By the way, I am not Tony, I just agree with his point of view on this subject.

  6. I’m really sorry, “Concerned”, but the Ramsgate you portray isn’t the one I live in. In my street there are loads of young families, some recent moved here. My wider group of acquaintances includes young families, the parents of whom have chosen to live in Ramsgate and bring up their children here.
    Our beaches, on fine summer days, are covered with people enjoying the seaside. The cafe culture is burgeoning.
    True, there are crumbling buildings. As there are elsewhere.
    True, there are drunks. As there are elsewhere.
    True there is litter in the streets. As there is elsewhere.
    Without exception, everyone of my friends who’s come to visit Ramsgate has been smitten by its charm; most have returned again and again.
    I don’t know what the opposite of Rose Tinted Glasses is, but yo must be wearing them!

  7. Just tried to cycle to Winterstoke from Govt Acre.
    Nigh on impossible because of 1000’s of people ranging from the very young to the very old enjoying themselves at a vintage car event on Govt Acre, and a D-Day event by the tunnels.
    You couldn’t move.

  8. I have scrolled through all comments and views. Some are valid. I have seen some devastations of the hovercraft, the port,Manston and Pfizer all have an impact to the area. Do we not have a responsibility to uphold and support the local council. Instead of throwing derogatory views on housing, and the environmental impact is being caused by Brett. Which I claim I know nothing about the company.

    Ramsgate is very historic, whilst I appreciate the history behind the beautiful town I live in. More support needs to be injected into supporting local businesses and a sustainable infrastructure for the local harbour and port which will thus and therefore support the local town.

    1) I walk on the beach everyday. I walk along the tide line picking rubbish from the sea. Surely enforcement officers need to be patrolling and issuing tickets to offenders. Money raised can be used to employ locals who have been out of long term work to clean out beaches.

    2) business rates reviewable. These are set to high for any SME to sustain any shop in the high street. Surely my allocation of council tax which is set at nearly 70% which is contributed towards Kent county council. Can be reallocated to help towards the high street with Grants. A simple formula for example. Lower rent, and business rates, will see more shops being rented out, this injected regular cash into Thanet via rates and rents. Local people and guests will be more inclined to work through the streets and spend a penny(in a matter of speaking) and also with more shops opening with lower rates, more jobs are formed,

    To me by looking into just the rates will help the local economy 10 fold. This will then lead to more money being invested by Thanet council to invest into the further for the harbour and port.

    At the moment, it would be incredible foolish for anyone to think this will be a quick fix. We need to look at the tools we have now and come up with some supportive ideas to support everyone inc Thanet council.
    There are so many views and ideas I could continue, however, I for one are keen to support the locals, services, Thanet council and businesses to implement any infrastructure to help such a loss to our beloved town.

    It was very historic for me to see the pilot scheme of a cruise ship entering the port. That’s a great start. And on the day of the bucket and spade day too. Shame the coaches then led the passengers to Canterbury. But at 12k pp on a cruise ship holding up to 300 people. It’s great


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