BUDGET cuts could affect the Ramsgate ferry plan, which would put the UK in a tough position in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
We explain what the plan is and how it will affect a no-deal Brexit.
What is the Ramsgate ferry plan?
The Ramsgate ferry plan is aimed to ease the customs chaos at Dover and Calais if no Brexit deal is made by March 29.
The Kent port stopped its service to Ostend in Belgium five years ago.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said in January after the announcement of the plan: “We believe they are on course to run services from April, yes”.
Grayling also had to defend the Department of Transport’s decision to award a £13m contact for the Ramsgate service to an unknown start up – Seaborne Freight –that doesn’t own any ferries.
He insisted: “Government is supporting new businesses and there is nothing wrong with that.
“We have looked very carefully at this business and have put in place a tight contract that makes sure they can deliver for us.”
The plan is reinstate the journey between Dover-Calais if there is a no-deal Brexit.
Chris Grayling insists that the port is ‘on course to run services from April’[/caption]
What are the budget cuts?
Thanet councillors in Kent are considering budget cuts to port spending that would make roll-on roll-off services impossible.
The council will be voting on the proposed £630,000 cuts soon.
It has been pumping money into the port to keep ready for ferry operations should the UK crash out of the EU without a deal.
The council is in a rock and hard place because it can’t afford to spend money on the port’s facilities if there are no ferries there and the ferries will only go there if there is a no-deal Brexit – which is something the government is trying to avoid.
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How will it be affected in a no-deal Brexit?
If a no-deal Brexit happens then Ramsgate is meant to open and run a service from there to Ostend.
The port running a ferry service is predicted to also divert traffic away from the M20, which many fear will have to be used as an emergency lorry park if backlogs develop at the border.
A DfT spokesperson said: “While the transport secretary strongly supports work across government with the EU to ensure a deal is reached, he will also continue to lead the DfT to ensure all contingencies are prepared for concerning Brexit.”