|Soon to be ex-Council Leader Chris Wells|
Within 3 days of my article being published, the Thanet Extra ran a story “Baltic ferry company in in talks over Ramsgate berth”. Within a week of my article being published the Kent on Sunday ran a similar story “Port in Pole position for ferries as Baltic firm meets the council”. These articles are, in my opinion, fake news based upon a press release issued by Thanet Council and UKIP Council Leader Chris Wells aimed at distracting public attention away from my revelations about the increasingly desperate financial problems faced by Ramsgate Port and the urgent need for TDC to explore new options for its future.
If TDC and Council Leader Wells were remotely confident about sealing a deal for a new ferry service from Ramsgate then I would have expected them to have made a triumphal, high profile, announcement on the council’s website about such important news. But they didn’t.
Instead TDC and Council Leader Wells issued a media statement (see below) which refers only in the vaguest of terms to “discussions with interested parties”. The statement doesn’t say how many interested parties the council has been in discussions with. The statement doesn’t say what form these discussions took. Were they just basic information gathering telephone calls and e-mail exchanges, or face to face discussions involving serious negotiations? Nor does the statement say when these discussions took place, over how long, and whether or not they are current and on going.
My suspicion is that the discussions referred to in TDC’s and Chris Wells’ media statement were of a very basic, exploratory nature, which took some place some time ago, and that none of these discussions have developed into serious on-going negotiations about the re-introduction of a ferry service at Ramsgate. But just to be sure I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to TDC to find out more about them. I have a feeling that the powers that be at TDC are likely to use their influence to try to block my information request so as to avoid the embarrassment at being caught bang to rights peddling fake news.
But, when it comes to Ramsgate Port, TDC’s political leaders aren’t averse to media manipulation and the deployment of fake news. In 1982, worried about the future of future of the port, the then leader of TDC councillor Derek Dolding hired a large Chevrolet car, disguised himself in Arabian costume, and drove around Ramsgate Port and Harbour pretending to be a super-rich oil-Sheik interested in investing in the port. Fake news and deception didn’t work then and it won’t work now. The real truth is that Ramsgate Port is in extremely serious financial trouble and it is highly unlikely to be rescued by a Polish Ferry company or an Arabian Sheik.
It time for TDC to develop plan instead of living in the past an continuing to waste public money
The Fake News Statement
“Cllr Wells, Leader of the Council 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.”