Figures provided to me by Thanet District Council for the financial year 2020-21 reveal that the Port of Ramsgate made operating losses of £1.479 million during this period.
As my graph shows, that every year for the past 11 years, the Port of Ramsgate has lost money. These losses now stand at a staggering £25.4 million!
To put the losses in perspective they are the equivalent of burning £6,326 every day for 11 years. Or put another way, Ramsgate Port losses have cost each of the 141,000 men, women and children living in Thanet £180.
But these are only operating losses. During the past 11 years TDC has spent at least £6 million on capital works at the port, and is just beginning the replacement of berths 4 and 5 at the port at an estimated cost of £2.5million.
Capital investment at the port has always been flagged up by the council , and its officer and political leaders, as being essential to improve the port, attract new customers, and secure its future.
But no new customers have ever arrived. Proved by the fact that 2020-21 saw the lowest number of berthing in 11 years, with just 10 ships berthing. Most matelots and salty seadogs will agree that a Port which hosts less one ship a month is a ghost port servicing ghost ships.
So we can safely say that that the £8.5million spent on capital works at the port has been a total failure and not generated any new income. This therefore brings total losses to close to £33million in 11 years.
I simply cannot believe that there is another council in the known universe to have made losses on this scale. This goes a long way to explaining why Thanet Council‘s services, such as waste collection, street cleaning, grounds maintenance etc are so appallingly bad when £6,326 per day is being spent on keeping open a port which is clearly insolvent and which has failed to attract new customers despite the investment of £8.5millions of tax payer money in improvements!
Then there’s the matter of responsibility and accountability. It’s hard to comprehend that just 2 weeks ago the person who, for eight years, was ultimately responsible for overseeing Ramsgate Port and reducing its losses, former Chief Executive, Madeline Homer, was allowed to resign with a £327,000 pay off. If ever there was case of rewarding failure this is probably it.
Questions must also be asked about the Director in charge of the port, Gavin Waite, currently suspended from his post pending investigations into alleged sexual discrimination and harassment. Why wasn’t he held to account for the failing port? Some might say that that’s because he was, and reportedly still is, sleeping with his then line manager Chief Executive Madeline Homer.
Finally we have the council leaders who are supposed to hold the council bosses to account for their performance or, in this case, their extraordinary lack thereof. Both Tory Bayford and Labour’s “Raging” Rick Everitt appear to have done absolutely nothing to stem the flow of taxpayers cash into the bottomless pit of Ramsgate Port. Why?
If I was the leader of Thanet council I would close the port down to end further massive losses and save taxpayers money. I would then commission a genuine, environmentally sustainable, options appraisal of the port and its future, and hold a democratic public consultation including a ballot on the options
I will be writing more about the port soon. Watch this space.