Polish ferry company holds talks with Thanet council over plans for services from Port of Ramsgate
PUBLISHED: 10:18 02 August 2017 | UPDATED: 11:31 02 August 2017
It comes after it emerged the port had lost some £17.7m over the last seven years
Plans to resume ferry services from the Port of Ramsgate have taken a step forward after the council held talks with a leading Polish firm.
Thanet District Council chiefs are understood to have met with representatives from Polferries - the largest operator in its country, which runs services across the Baltic Sea between Poland and Sweden.
However, the talks are understood to only be at an embryonic stage and there are at least two other parties in discussion with the town hall.
The port is owned by the council and there has been much enthusiasm to reactivate it as a key transport route, with cross-Channel operations falling by the wayside since the collapse of TransEuropa in 2013.
Earlier this year, bosses appointed industry expert, Robert Hardy of Paradox Consulting, to a special team dedicated to the port’s future.
Council leader Chris Wells told us: “We will talk to anyone who is serious about this because we believe it will bring jobs and prosperity to the area.”
The developments come after it emerged that the port had lost some £17.7m over the last seven years, with some fearing it may have no future at all.
Former councillor turned blogger Ian Driver said: “These astronomic financial losses, the failure to attract a new ferry operator, and the steep decline in ships using the port, demonstrate beyond doubt that Ramsgate Port is a ghost port which doesn’t have a financially sustainable future and only survives because it is being propped up by the taxpayer.
“I can’t see how Ramsgate port can survive for much longer in its present guise especially bearing in mind the fierce competition from nearby Dover, which is now beginning a £200m, three-year expansion and modernisation programme and the highly successful, state-of-the-art, London Gateway Port less than 70 miles away.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if next year the number of ships berthing at Ramsgate fell below 100, proving what most of us already know – that Ramsgate port is a ghost port in terminal decline.”
A council spokesperson said: “Over the last two years, Thanet District Council has been working on re-establishing ferry services at the Port of Ramsgate.
“This has included investment in dredging and repairs of the Ro-Ro berths to ensure we are ready for business.
“The team, which includes a consultant with over 30 years’ experience of the cross-Channel market, has been in discussions with several interested parties, both in the UK and on the continent, to provide a long term sustainable solution and to relieve some of the traffic issues approaching the Port of Dover.”