Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ferrygate - Inside The Secret TDC Committee

Hands up who's heard of Thanet Council's 'Ramsgate Port and Marina Cabinet Advisory Group'? I certainly hadn't. But apparently it does exactly what it says on the tin.

The minutes had, until a year ago, been published on TDC's website. Then the powers-that-be decided that what they were discussing was way too confidential for the likes of you and me, the people who actually pay their wages, to be privy to.

Councillors who are or were on the committee, according to those minutes that have been published, include Bayford, Campbell, Gideon, Huxley, Roberts and Watkins, with occasional appearances from D Green and Poole, and TDC officers such as Maritime Operations Manager and Harbour Master Rob Brown, and Corporate and Regulatory Services Manager Harvey Patterson.

Now, what is interesting is that on 26th January 2012, the last meeting where the minutes were published, the committee decided to spend a £20K EU grant that had to be used up by June 2012 on hiring a consultant to see what could be done to attract new business to the port. And here's the clincher. The reason? Because 'no-one within TDC was expert enough in this field'.

So, by their own admission, by the beginning of 2012, when TransEuropa's debts were already piling up, no-one at TDC was competent enough to run a maritime business in such a way that alternative shipping lines could be attracted to take up the slack. Un-flipping-believable!

Of course, we'll never know if a consultant was indeed hired, or if anything was done to attract any alternative, viable business. Because the minutes end with this killer punch: 'AOB: The Ramsgate Port and Marina Cabinet Advisory Group agreed that all future meetings would be private.'


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this information - it's news to me.

There's nothing like open goverment and this sounds nothing like.....etc.

Where is the accountability if no one outside the inner circle knows what's happening. I didn't realise that it was possible to make whole meetings private forever as I thought that it would only be the bits where confidentiality was needed. After all it is funded by us public so we should know what we're paying for.

Anonymous said...

Would freedom of information require them to publish any non confidential reports and minutes and dates of meetings etc? There has to be a good reason not to disclose information.

Also wouldn't this lot have to report somewhere. What's the point of setting up an Advisory Group if they don't advise anyone?

Anonymous said...

Yet another sign of TDC ineptitude and possible corruption ... and still they keep coming.
How much longer before someone invites Fraud Squad, Public Accounts Committee etc to investigate an outfit that is clearly and demonstrably not fit for purpose. Investigations should start at the top with names being made public throughout.
Of course... it won't happen ... this is after all, Thanet ... where many protests are made that kill initiatives of any odour.

Tony Ovenden said...

I have checked eBay and none of the ferries have been posted as up for sale.

Richard Eastcliff said...

Perhaps they'll be towed out to Turkey with the Ark Royal to be scrapped, Tony!

Anonymous said...

With RTC they simply refused requests for invoices on Manston etc. And Moores is keeping quiet on his 0% salary decisions.

TDC loves secrecy because they make so many idiotic and corrupt decisions.

With Sandy in jail the Police investigations are hotting up. the Courts will require documents, signatories, witness statements on oath etc.

I'd be worried if I were McGonigal: Finance Director and now Chief Exec through all this.

Anonymous said...

Since Ramsgate Port is a commercial operation it should be put into administration and the administrators can look for a buyer. Any cash left over then TDC can join the queue with all the other creditors.

Readit said...

Anon 4.19 You do not put a going concern into administration, you could put it in trust and ring fence the income so it is not lost in the TDC accounts which seems to be happening here.

I was told the Port was not making money and the Royal Harbour was the money spinner. £1m+ expected income P.A. with minimal overheads (as quoted by Simon Moores) seems a good earner, not to mention the wind farm boats income.

Perhaps it is time that the Ramsgate Port and Harbour were run on an independent basis, then none of this "it's your fault" would happen.

Anonymous said...

How about we don't trust TDC with anything other than the income from the Saturday parking in our town centres?

Anonymous said...

How about we don't trust TDC with anything other than the income from the Saturday parking in our town centres?