A new ferry route between the West Flemish coastal city of Ostend and the port of Ramsgate in the English county of Kent could be just around the corner. The Mayor of Ostend Bart Tommelein (liberal) and the Alderman responsible for amongst other things the city’s port Charlotte Verkeyn (nationalist) have told the daily ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ that since their visit to Ramsgate in January progress towards launching the new service has speeded up considerably.
The new ferry link was to have started up in March of last year. However, its launch has been put back several times since. In the UK doubts had been raised about the company that was to provide to the service Seaborne Freight’s ability to do so.
Last month Mr Tommelein and MsVerkeyn went to Ramsgate for talks with the authorities there and with representatives of Seaborne Freight. In the meantime progress has been made towards launching the service.
Mr Tommelein told the paper that “The talks are heading in the right direction, but we are still waiting for a final breakthrough. We have asked for concrete guarantees. Once the contract has been signed and all the conditions have been met the ferry service will be able to start”.
Two days after their visit to Ramsgate, Mr Tommelein and Ms Verkeyn held a meeting with the UK’s Ambassador to Belgium Allison Rose at Ostend Town Hall.
The city authorities in Ostend when cast iron guarantees on a number of issues before the all-clear will be given for the new ferry service to start. These include Seaborne Ferries paying for a fence around the ferry terminal, but that the fence will be property of the Port of Ostend. The City of Ostend is also demanding a-reaching financial guarantees from Seaborne ferries, including a deposit that can be used if the company fails to pay bills from the Port as well of prepayment of its all its rent and other costs payable to the Port of Ostend between the start of the service and 2020.