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UK minister defends giving Brexit ferry contract to company with no ships


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UK minister defends giving Brexit ferry contract to company with no ships

By Andrew MacAskill and Jonathan Saul

 

2019-01-02T084432Z_1_LYNXNPEF010BP_RTROPTP_4_BRITAIN-EU.JPG

Britain's Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling arrives in Downing Street, London, Britain, December 18, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

 

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's transport minister has defended awarding a 14 million-pound ($18 million) contract for shipping goods after Brexit to a new ferry company that owns no ships.

 

The government last week awarded three contracts to charter extra ferries to ease congestion if the United Kingdom fails to secure a trade deal before leaving the European Union in March.

 

The smallest contract was won by Seaborne Freight, a British business that has never previously operated a ferry route, raising concern about whether the new service would be ready.

 

"I make no apologies for supporting a new British business," Transport Minister Chris Grayling told BBC radio on Wednesday. "We have looked very carefully at this business. We have put in place a tight contract to make sure they can deliver for us."

 

He added that he believed channel ports would be able "to operate normally in all Brexit circumstances".

 

But the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, and the risk of a no-deal Brexit is growing -- a nightmarish prospect for many businesses, which are now planning for an economic shock.

 

Finding extra ships - especially vessels that transport trucks - to work new routes across the Channel will be vital if the main terminals of Calais in France and Dover and Folkestone in Britain are clogged by customs checks.

 

Seaborne Freight did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

 

The company told Reuters in December it had been working over the past 18 months to offer a new service between Britain's Ramsgate, which is near Dover, and Belgium's Ostend - reopening a route that another operator had used until suspending the service in 2013.

 

Glenn Dudley, Seaborne Freight's chief operating officer, told Reuters last month they were looking to start operations in the first quarter of 2019 with two ships, "with additional tonnage to join later on in the year".

 

Each roll-on roll-off (RORO) ship would be able to carry up to 100 trucks. The company intends to offer up to 16 departures daily each way, Dudley said.

 

Finding RORO ships, which are usually booked in advance, is complex. About 85 percent of capacity on RORO ships was booked several months ahead, one industry source said.

 

Currently, Britain's membership of the EU means that trucks drive smoothly through border checks within the bloc. But in a no-deal Brexit, even a few minutes' delay at customs for each truck could mean vehicles backed up at ports and queued on feeder roads on both sides of the Channel.

 

To ease a potential backlog, the government awarded Seaborne Freight a contract to operate ferries from Ramsgate to Ostend.

 

Asked how the government knew the company could run an effective service, Grayling said officials had carried out due diligence on the company. The decision to use the port of Ramsgate, he said, was not "something that we have plucked from thin air."

 

Thanet District Council, which owns the port of Ramsgate, told Reuters on Wednesday that dredging to extend access for ships would start this week, referring further queries to Seaborne Freight, which was carrying out the work.

 

Grayling, who campaigned for Brexit before Britain's EU referendum, also said that Britain would be able to cope with a no-deal Brexit, saying he was confident that it would not cause problems at British ports.

 

"I am expecting the channel ports to operate normally in all Brexit circumstances" Grayling said. "I am confident that will happen."

($1 = 0.7863 pounds)

 

(Reporting By Andrew MacAskill and Jonathan Saul; editing by Paul Sandle, Larry King)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-01-03

 

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Seeing as Grayling has stumbled through various depts,leaving chaos and havoc in his wake i expect this to be no different,in fact the bigger surprise would be if it actually works,maybe at last this could be his moment in the sun........ Nah don't be silly.

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14 minutes ago, RichardColeman said:

Always seems to me the Tories (and al the other politicians) are deliberately trying to make a mess of Brexit just to cancel it as the politicians don't agree with the public.

The term ‘pig’s ear’ comes to mind.

 

You were never going to get a silk purse.

 

 

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Correct, but blame lies in there being no one of Maggies stature in the house let alone at the helm. The Country lacks leadership or credible chain of command. I cannot recall a bigger shambles since the days of Heath (who took us in) or Jim "Wot Crisis?" Callaghan & his winter of discounted tents.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Chomper Higgot said:

Evidence is emerging that this contract, awarded without a bidding competition, was handed to a family member of a significant Tory Party fund donator.

 

The stink is getting stronger.

Yes, like 'Deepthroat' already said to Woodward and Bernstein: follow the money ...

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Another "anchor with a capital W".

 

Given the state of public sector procurement in the UK, this numpties decision doesn't surprise.

 

They'll be quite a few note this and be setting up businesses to dip in the Tory gravy train.

 

Another intelligent Brexiter whose grasp of reality is sadly loose.

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2 hours ago, Chomper Higgot said:

Evidence is emerging that this contract, awarded without a bidding competition, was handed to a family member of a significant Tory Party fund donator.

 

The stink is getting stronger.

 

Really? Wouldn't be at all surprised. Sort of thing Tory Brexiters think they'll be able to get away with once Britain is out of the EU and in their hands. 

 

If what you say his true, then let's see if British Justice is independent - he should be prosecuted.

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2 hours ago, Chomper Higgot said:

Evidence is emerging that this contract, awarded without a bidding competition, was handed to a family member of a significant Tory Party fund donator.

 

The stink is getting stronger.

 

Re. the information that the contract was handed to a family member of a significant Tory Party Donor - almost every source refers (ultimately) back to a piece written by Vox Political's Mike Sivier, and evidence is emerging that this "fact" appearing in his piece is not true.

 

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2 hours ago, Chomper Higgot said:

Evidence is emerging that this contract, awarded without a bidding competition, was handed to a family member of a significant Tory Party fund donator.

 

The stink is getting stronger.

 

according to an interview with the minister on ch4 news the contract was put out to tender, he would not, though, confirm how many companies tendered for the contract

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2 hours ago, Grouse said:

Thanet is Farage country is it not? The CONs are fighting the next election already.

Craig Mackinlay the incumbent Tory is awaiting jury decision on whether he broke election law. It seems Tory HQ brought in the artillery to win the seat and stop Farage. The hotel expenses were not declared and much else. Looks to me like the CONs are gearing up to fight a bi-election!

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Grayling, not the sharpest knife in the drawer. After the railway fiasco one might have hoped he would be replaced with someone with at least a minimal competency to be a minister. But no, Mrs May is so short of friends she needs to keep massively incompetent and frankly stupid people in the cabinet. Resign May, it is time to go.

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9 hours ago, flyingtlger said:

Something smells very fishy.....even without boats!

 

image.jpeg.48c2e3a82c582c1480ba41591f5e1a22.jpeg

Grayling, Sturgeon, Salmond, do I detect a trend here ? Will they swear to tell the trout, the whole trout, and nothing but the trout ?

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5 hours ago, andersonat said:

 

Re. the information that the contract was handed to a family member of a significant Tory Party Donor - almost every source refers (ultimately) back to a piece written by Vox Political's Mike Sivier, and evidence is emerging that this "fact" appearing in his piece is not true.

 

Let’s spend less time trying to debunk the news and more time investigating the ridiculous award of this contract.

 

Investgate the award process, who the award went to and why.

 

Follow the paper trail and the money.

 

If the contract award is above board the government have nothing to hide and a very good reason to support a transparent investigation.

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11 hours ago, webfact said:

Britain's transport minister has defended awarding a 14 million-pound ($18 million) contract for shipping goods after Brexit to a new ferry company that owns no ships.

 

11 hours ago, webfact said:

Seaborne Freight did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

 

Maybe they don't have an office either.

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8 hours ago, Chomper Higgot said:

Let’s spend less time trying to debunk the news and more time investigating the ridiculous award of this contract.

 

Investgate the award process, who the award went to and why.

 

Follow the paper trail and the money.

 

If the contract award is above board the government have nothing to hide and a very good reason to support a transparent investigation.

How amusing to read exactly what an incompetent business we have awarded public money to.

 

It is clear that our Government is no longer capable of embarrassment. It hardly fills you with confidence that we could actually handle a no deal Brexit. 

 

From various sources - BBC, Sky, Guardian.

"A firm awarded a government contract to provide extra ferry services has used website terms and conditions apparently intended for a takeaway food firm.

Seaborne Freight was given the £13.8m contract to run a freight service between Ramsgate and Ostend in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Its original terms and conditions advised customers to check goods before "agreeing to pay for any meal/order".

First, it emerged that the “startup” company hired to operate extra ferries as part of no-deal Brexit planning had no ships.

Now, new questions are being asked about the readiness of Seaborne Freight to handle the £13.8m contract after it turned out that terms and conditions on its website appeared to be intended for a food delivery firm.

Questions were also being raised about other parts of the terms and conditions, including a passage which stated: “Delivery charges are calculated per order and based on [delivery details here].”

Another section, which appeared to be constructed with a view more to mitigating against the impact of prank pizza orders than transporting goods across some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, warned: “Users are prohibited from making false orders through our website.”

It added: “Seaborne Freight (UK) Limited reserves the right to seek compensation through legal action for any losses incurred as the result of hoax delivery requests and will prosecute to the full extent of the law.”

 

Chris Grayling’s Department for Transport said a section of the terms and conditions on the company’s website had been put up in error and was being immediately rectified.

WHAT!   Since when have the Department of transport been responsible for explaining website mistakes by firms they give contracts to, surely the company themselves are responsible for answering for this idiocy.

 

This whole thing beggars belief, even the hard Brexiteers capable of coherent thought,  must be getting worried. 

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8 hours ago, Grouse said:

Must be curtains for Grayling surely?

It should have been a long time ago, May can't afford to loose any more voters though. Labour side stepping the second referendum issue again. Apparently to hire RORO ferries, or even slots on them you have to secure contracts many many months ahead, no chance for April at all.

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On ‎1‎/‎3‎/‎2019 at 6:24 PM, phantomfiddler said:

Grayling, Sturgeon, Salmond, do I detect a trend here ? Will they swear to tell the trout, the whole trout, and nothing but the trout ?

So help me cod.

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3 hours ago, Grouse said:

Have we forgotten Herald of Free Enterprise? Professionalism required with RORO ( Roll on roll over)

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS_Herald_of_Free_Enterprise

 

A bridge would be a great move!

Not to mention Estonia in the Baltic, 1994.

 

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