Ramsgate ‘can not be ready’ for Brexit ferries

Port of RamsgateImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Seaborne’s contract at Ramsgate was one of three awarded to ease “severe congestion” at Dover, in the case of a no-deal Brexit

The Port of Ramsgate “can not be ready” for extra ferry services in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to the councillor for the harbour area.

Seaborne Freight has been given a £13.8m contract to run a freight service between Ramsgate and Ostend in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

However, Conservative councillor Beverly Martin says the harbour can not be ready by Brexit on 29 March.

The government said facilities will be open “as soon as practicable”.

In a statement the Department for Transport said that “works are underway”.

Ramsgate has not had a regular ferry service since 2013.

Seaborne’s contract was one of three awarded to ease “severe congestion” at Dover, in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

The contingency plans allow for almost 4,000 more lorries a week to come and go from other ports, including Plymouth, Poole, and Portsmouth.

In total the contracts are worth £103m.

“From local knowledge, there is terrific concern that we [Ramsgate Port] can not possibly by ready. There isn’t the width or the breadth of the berths that is needed to carry large ships,” the councillor said.

“I don’t see how, with the state of the harbour and the port and the number of repairs that are needed that it could be ready.”

No emails

Ms Martin also said there had been no contact with the council about opening the harbour for larger freight ships.

“We didn’t have any notification of any this at our council meeting on 6 December. Why not? This is my ward. I have not had a single email from anybody.”

“If someone can show me how the due diligence was carried out, if someone can show me evidence on paper I shall feel a lot more comfortable,” she told the BBC’s Broadcasting House.

The Department for Transport said it had been in dialogue with Thanet Council, which owns the port, for a couple years, and dismissed allegations that local residents had not been consulted as “complete nonsense”.

Seaborne’s deal to run freight services from Ramsgate has been criticised as the company has never run a ferry service and does not own any ships.

Last week the company was ridiculed for using terms and conditions on its website apparently intended for a takeaway food firm.