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Plans to reopen ferry port in case of no-deal Brexit could hit the rocks over funding row

Ferries could run from Ramsgate if there is a no-deal Brexit. Credit: PA

Plans to reopen a ferry port in the event of a no-deal Brexit could be disrupted if councillors approve a string of budget cuts.

The Government handed Seaborne Freight a £13.8 million contract to run a service from Ramsgate to the Belgian city of Ostend to alleviate anticipated delays and queues at the Port of Dover. Discussions are ongoing as to how this will work.

But Thanet District Council, which owns and operates Ramsgate Ferry Port, is proposing funding cuts which could make running such services impossible.

The authority has been financing the port to keep it ready for ferry services and says if "arrangements" are not finalised, it will be "required" to make the cuts.

Councillors are to decide whether to make savings of £730,000 over the next year when they vote on the budget on Thursday evening.

A great deal of work is needed to ensure the port is ready to open in time for Brexit. Credit: PA

The Department for Transport said it continues to have "conversations" with the council, among other organisations, "over any plans to re-establish ferry services at the Port of Ramsgate".

Officials hope extra ferries from the port - which last ran a regular ferry service to Europe in 2013 - would help cut down delays in Dover if more border checks on goods and passengers are imposed.

Plans to reopen the port could be stalled amid proposed budget cuts. Credit: PA

Reopening the port would allow authorities to send traffic away from the M20 - the motorway could then be used as an emergency lorry park if there is a backlog of queues to Dover.

The Seaborne Freight contract came under fire after it emerged the company has never run a ferry service before and part of its website terms and conditions appeared to have been copied from a takeaway restaurant.

Seaborne Freight has been contacted for comment.