Brexit: 'No deal' Port of Ramsgate funding axed

Port of Ramsgate signImage source, EPA
Image caption,
Seaborne Freight had planned to launch services from Ramsgate by Brexit day on 29 March

Funding for the Port of Ramsgate which was at the centre of a row over a no-deal-Brexit ferry contract has been axed.

Thanet District Council has approved cuts of £730,000 saying it will no longer keep the port "ferry-ready".

In December the government gave Seaborne Freight a contract to run a service to Ostend, Belgium to offset delays in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

The Seaborne contract was later cancelled after a backer pulled out.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling had faced criticism for the £13.8m deal with firm Seaborne Freight, which the BBC found had never run a ferry service.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The Port of Ramsgate has not had a regular ferry service since 2013

Local politicians in both Ramsgate and Ostend had also warned the ports at both ends of the route would not be ready the deadline.

The government is now facing legal action from Eurotunnel, which said the contracts awarded to Seaborne and two other ferry companies were handed out in a "secretive" way.

Port ferry-ready

On 7 February Mr Grayling requested Thanet District delay making a decision on its budget while talks with Seaborne continued.

The budget, including the cuts to the Port of Ramsgate, was approved on Thursday.

Bob Bayford, the Conservative leader of the council, said: "The port has been held in a state of readiness for a potential ferry operator to come in, for the last five years.

"When we took control [of the council] a year ago I announced that this would be the last year we would carry on in that way, and if by the end of the year we didn't have a contracted ferry service then we would cease to keep the port ferry-ready."

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