Tenders are being invited by Thanet council to carry out a feasibility study on Ramsgate Port and Harbour.
At a full council meeting in February TDC pledged to carry out the study before the end of the year. Thanet council said some £40,000 is earmarked for the feasibility study.
It followed the decision the same month 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 port spending.
It has not been detailed how the additional £130,000 will be saved.
The funding cut decision was made following the saga of Seaborne Freight proposals for a Ramsgate/Ostend ferry service which, in December 2018, 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 at Ramsgate was run by Sally Line Ferries. Sally ceased operations in 1998.
The study will examine what future uses could be viable for the port and harbour to stop the haemorrhaging of cash from the port side of operations.
Ramsgate Port has racked up total losses of £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.
International consultants Marine Development Limited have previously offered to carry out an appraisal of how a marina village could be created at Ramsgate Port and harbour.
Their study would have looked at options for operational integration of the Royal Harbour and a Marina Village, accommodating larger yachts, creating a berth for small cruise ships, the possible repositioning of the Royal Harbour based fishing fleet; wind farm support vessels; pilot services and associated support services. Also included was a suggestion for the creation of a hotel and conference centre surrounded by retail outlets, artisan workshops and markets.
In its brief MDL also said it could examine ideas for a yacht support service centre possibly incorporating a Marine Academy and maximising public spaces to give easy access to visitors and residents.
It would also have produced a 10-year cash flow projection detailing income, operating costs investment capital to implement recommended changes and significant capital replacement costs to sustain the current (and future proposed) site infrastructure.
However, there does not appear to have been contact between Thanet council and MDL since last year.
The feasibility study tender says the council is “seeking to undertake a high level feasibility study to inform future development, enhancement and diversification of use of the Port of Ramsgate.
“This feasibility study is Phase One of identifying the Port of Ramsgate’s strategic future and will explore and review the available options for the development, enhancement and diversification of the Port of Ramsgate. It should include findings, analysis, and conclusions from visioning and scoping exercises.”
The contract is expected to start on October 14 and last for approximately 12 weeks. Phase Two will be the drawing up of a Master Plan. A final report is expected for completion by January 2020.
Bidders have until 2pm on September 27 to submit their proposals.
Ramsgate Action Group member Dominic Murphy has raised concerns over the criteria for the contract. He said: “I’m sure a proper feasibility study is necessary and if properly done valuable. But, in the small print, the criteria for selecting the successful bid gives a 70% weight to price and 30% weight to quality of proposal. It should be the other way round.
“The budget is already set at a maximum of £40,000. So price savings can only be small. But loss of quality could be ruinous. What is more, the minimum size of company that can apply is set at an annual turnover of £80,000. That is below the VAT threshold and tiny given the scope of the task and its importance for the future of Ramsgate.
“If the job goes to a small operation with only the resources to take their lead from the desires of the existing TDC corporate management team, well I’m sure there are many that would think: “heyho, more of the same old same old”, and turn away in disappointment.
“Let’s not allow that to happen. We need to campaign for a study made by people with the resources to do it properly and (within reason) independently. The selection criteria in the tender documents must be changed.”
Not more money wasted on feasibility studies and jobs for the boys. I thought the Heritage Action Zone Person was doing this. Ask the people of Ramsgate and they will soon tell you what they want for Ramsgate Harbour and it won’t cost TDC a penny.
Sorry. I’m not sure I know what the People of Ramsgate want.Or even what Mrs Ramsgate wants. Please elucidate
Ramsgate port could be buzzing with activity if TDC contacted all shipping companies and allowed them to use the port free of rent for 10 years. The company’s would still have to pay rates and in the case of ferries £5 per car £10 HGVs That entered the port for cargo and or roll on roll off, it would also be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the port and all areas associated with it. The car parking and other support services would be subject to normal criteria. After 10 years rent would be introduced at market valuation.
One problem with allowing companies to use it ‘rent free’ is that the freehold of a lot of the land in the port belongs to Crown estates (as this land was reclaimed from the sea) and TDC has to pay quite a bit of money each year in ground rent under the terms of their lease. TDC would need to charge a rent that at least covered their ground rent costs.
Put the gypsys down there
I’m sure a proper feasibility study is necessary and if properly done valuable. But, in the small print, the criteria for selecting the successful bid gives a 70% weight to price and 30% weight to quality of proposal. It should be the other way round. The budget is already set at a maximum of £40,000. So price savings can only be small. But loss of quality could be ruinous.
What is more, the minimum size of company that can apply is set at an annual turnover of £80,000. That is below the VAT threshold and tiny given the scope of the task and its importance for the future of Ramsgate.
If the job goes to a small operation with only the resources to take their lead from the desires of the existing TDC corporate management team, well I’m sure there are many that would think: “heyho, more of the same old same old”, and turn away in disappointment.
Let’s not allow that to happen. We need to campaign for a proper study made by people with the resources to do it properly and within reason independently.
The above quote states – The feasibility study tender says the council is “seeking to undertake a high level feasibility study to inform future development, enhancement and diversification of use of the Port of Ramsgate.
It does NOT include the Royal Harbour and marina.
Currently the Leader of the Council has confirmed to me in writing that the Council do not hold any real data or information on the economic impact and value of the Royal Harbour and Marina economy.
This is despite the Council and the Leader making decisions that will directly and significantly adversely impact the Royal Harbour and marina economy. Most notably supporting cargo planes at some 200 metres overhead (the length of a football pitch is 120 meters) and, perhaps, even more damming coming up with a draft Local Plan on Strategic Policies without any meaningful baseline data on the Royal Harbour and marina economy.
It is as if the Royal Harbour and marina do not exist at or in the TDC offices.
It is perhaps unsurprising the map at the Visit Thanet office does not even have the Royal Harbour on its map of Thanet.
The Royal harbour is the only one in the country, it is of national significance, it has its own Mean Time (the only one in the country save for Greenwich Mean Time), has been painted by James Tissot and by Turner (it is my understanding that Turner used Ramsgate more than Margate as a setting for his paintings) to name but a few artists, it is one of the key assets used in and by Visit Kent marketing in attracting visitors to Thanet, it is home to a very busy marina, it is next to the largest Wetherspoons in the world, has been featured in films as well as being home to the second largest international regatta in the UK etc etc.
The Council must capture, quantify and assess the economic impact and value of the
Royal Harbour and Marina economy and publish it. This cannot be crowbarred into a long overdue feasibility study on the Port.
OK I have found the documents which can be seen here >
The scope is described as: “The high level feasibility study should consider opportunities for the Port of
Ramsgate estate (Ramsgate Royal Harbour and the Commercial Port).”
It adds “In order to understand deliverability of the identified opportunities for the Port and
Harbour consideration needs to be given to the potential sources of funding (both public
and private), including an appraisal of relevant funding models to support those funding
sources and delivery of the project objectives. Consideration should be given to the
current economic climate and viability constraints.”
So, samara jones-hall, on what factual basis were your previous strong opinions based?
Paras 1-2) Refers to a direct quote from the article in relation to the scope of the feasibility study. I merely cited the quote. As Kathy has made clear in her comment at 5:25pm and it is also clear in the documentation I referenced and posted at 5:16pm and 5:24pm the quote was cut short missing off the inclusion of the Royal Harbour.
Para 3) Refers to a communication to me by the Leader of the Council as of 12 September 2019.
Para 4) Has been well documented in the media and to UK Planning Inspectorate including a communication by the Leader of the Council to UK Planning Inspectorate as of 15 February 2019. As well as a communication to me by the Leader of the Council as of 12 September 2019.
Para 6) Is clear for anyone to see on the wall of the Visit Thanet office.
Para 7) Is well documented.
Thank you for a commendably full reply.
Ok I have found the bid documents and it is better than I thought>
Does Thanet council know there’s a continent about 25 miles across the channel from Ramsgate port? Also does Thanet council want to prosper or rot and decay?
I might be wrong but I was under the impression that Sally Ferries withdrew from Ramsgate due a huge drop in their profits following the abolition of duty free goods within the EU.
Surely when we leave the EU, duty free goods will be reintroduced on journeys to the EU thus making the possibility of a new ferry service from Ramsgate look much more viable.