Moored: P&O ferries in harbour. It seems that’s exactly where the UK government wants them to stay.
This is potentially problematic. What’s to stop P&O from complaining that the firm is being victimised by the government because of the way it sacked 800 workers – and that the Tories are trying to run it out of business as a result?
A P&O Ferries ship has been detained in Northern Ireland over safety concerns.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the European Causeway passenger boat had been held in Larne over multiple issues.
The MCA said there had been “failures on crew familiarisation, vessel documentation and crew training”.
Unions have raised concerns over a lack of experience of new crew, introduced after 800 of the firm’s staff were sacked eight days ago.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Meanwhile, Mr Javid has been stoking fears that people trying to get across the channel from France are being smuggled by people traffickers. Otherwise, he says, why would anybody want to leave a perfectly decent country like France?
Here’s one possible reason:
"Why would a refugee come to the UK from France, its perfectly fine there"
Here is a video of the 'Jungle' in Calais – where undocumented migrants converged.
However, according to Mr Javid, these refugees are being smuggled in for criminal purposes.
So he’s saying that the people carrying refugees (or criminals, depending who you believe) across the Channel have ships that are not only better than Seaborne Freight – which has none – but also better than the Border Force and (so far) navy patrol ships that have been brought in to hunt them down.
Perhaps Mr Grayling should be offering them the contract to run a ferry service? They seem to have a better shipping infrastructure and he could make honest people of them.
Extra: It seems the port at Ramsgate is being dredged, in accordance with the requirements of running a ferry there – by a European firm. Make of that what you will!
Ramsgate ferry terminal: The Seaborne contract requires the waters surrounding it to be dredged – who’s paying for that, then?
The Conservative government has often been accused of making up its policies on the back of a cigarette packet so perhaps it’s no surprise that the ferry-free freight company hired to provide a service following a “no deal” Brexit seems to have cut-and-pasted its terms and conditions from a takeaway website.
Seaborne Freight was awarded a £13.8 million contract to ease the pressure on Dover when Britain pulls out of the EU – despite never having run a Channel service.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling insisted the company had been properly vetted before being chosen, but now we find the terms and conditions on its website appeared to have been lifted from a takeaway delivery service.
The ‘placing an order’ section stated that “it is the responsibility of the customer to ensure delivery address details are correct and detailed enough for the delivery driver to locate the address in adequate time.
“You must always provide a valid contact number and email when ordering online. Please provide additional delivery instructions in the relevant section on our checkout page. In the event that your address cannot be found, undelivered orders will be chargeable.”
I hope you’re laughing. This is very funny indeed, especially if you don’t like the Tories and their corrupt little deals. And of course, you’re paying for it so you might as well have a giggle.
Fiasco: It costs an average of 3.1 per cent more to board a train than it did in December – and the chances are it will still be delayed.
Chris Grayling is failing as Transport Secretary, just as he failed as Justice Secretary and as a minister for employment.
His latest disaster is the latest increase increase in ticket prices on Britain’s railways – most of which are owned by foreign companies and all of which have creamed £3.5 billion in profits off of us, while failing to provide adequate services.
The Mirror describes it as a “gravy train” for the privatised rail operators, which were once a national utility owned by all of us.
Its report stated: “Private train operators have creamed off £3.5 billion from running our railways over the past 10 years.
“These gigantic profits come despite passengers having to deal with overcrowding, delays, cancellations, strikes and among the highest ticket prices in Europe.
“It got worse yesterday as fare increases were introduced.”
Those increases amount to 3.2 per cent this year – totalling 36 per cent since 2010. The Mirror reported that top executives were making a fortune from them. So what do you think Mr Grayling had to say about it?
He blamed the employees.
A different Mirror report stated: “Chris Grayling blamed rail workers three times in an interview.
“He claimed the “biggest factor” behind the fare rises is “pay pressure from the unions”.
“”They want pay rises that are much higher than [Shadow Transport Secretary] Andy McDonald was talking about.
“”They threaten strike action across the country to get those pay rises.””
According to Rachael Maskell MP, he also attacked Network Rail:
Tory’s Chris Grayling is blaming everyone but himself for rail failure this morning … even Network Rail … accountable to who? Chris Grayling of course!!
According to the Mirror‘s report, he said: “This is a pathetic attempt to shift the blame for Tory fares policies onto the staff who run the railway.
“It’s telling that Grayling doesn’t suggest slashing the salaries of train company bosses or dividends paid to shareholders of private train companies.”
Labour – and the Mirror – wants rail services to be renationalised. Privatisation has been an enormously costly mistake. Who knows how much money has been lost due to overcharging by the private companies – and due to the delays their poor services have caused?
Here’s Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn:
Today the latest Tory rail fares increase kicked in.
This is a very wealthy country. We can invest in a public run railways to both improve them and cut fares so that those who aren't well off can afford to use them, and we can also invest in our decimated bus services. The money is there; what's missing is political willpower.
Meanwhile, Mr Grayling remains under fire for his decision to give a £14 million ferrying contract – in the event of a no-deal Brexit – to a firm that has no experience and no ships.
He has doubled down on his decision:
Grayling's defence of giving a £14 million contract to ferry company with no ferries is that "As Conservatives we back new start-up businesses". But this to to stave off a potential catastrophe. Say you had no ambulance service and you gave the contract to an unproven start-up?
But this only means he has exposed himself to further ridicule:
I've got no trains and have no experience of running a rail franchise, but I do own my own business, I think I'll get Chris Grayling to bung me £40 million to run a service on the East Coast Mainline. #BBCswitchoff
I've just launched a hoverboard business, just like out of Back to the Future! I don't actually have any hoverboards, but that's the sort of technicality that doesn't seem to bother Chris Grayling, so can I have a £14m government contract please? cc @transportgovuk
I don't own a boat. I've never run a ferry service. And I've no trading history. That makes me equally as qualified as Seaborne Freight to get that govt contract. In fact, I'll do it for £13 million rather than £14 million. Can't say fairer than that. What do you say, Theresa?
In response to that last tweet, Tom Pride answered: “Don’t listen to him @theresa_may, I’ll do it for 10…”
But there are serious questions too, like this one…
I wonder which minister will eventually be ‘linked’ to the company who’ve been paid £millions on the (handshake/school tie) understanding that they’ll never have to use the Ferries they don’t actually have! https://t.co/yUNNJXSsAs
Big question in Grayling ferry contract scandal is why the Cabinet Secretary did not intervene. Tip of iceberg of such contracts I’m told,& deep unease in Whitehall at his subservience to Mrs May & undermining of core civil service values
Ramsgate ferry terminal: Would it be able to cope with the kind of use required by the Seaborne contract?
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has scored a real hit with his appointment of Seaborne Freight to charter ferries in the event of a no-deal Brexit (at a cost of £13,800,000 to the taxpayer).
The company – if it really is a company at all – has no ships, no trading history, has not previously operated a ferry service and is not planning to do so until close to the UK’s scheduled departure date.
The service would run from Ramsgate to Ostend, although questions have been asked about the Kent town’s ability to accommodate it, as well as the company’s fitness for the job.
When I heard about this, the first thing that came to mind was the company that won the contract to supply Kentucky Fried Chicken with, well, chicken – and then utterly failed to provide anything like enough. Its bosses simply had no idea.
But of course, this particular silliness has turned up at a time of multiple Tory government-related sillinesses:
We’ve had a drone that wasn’t a drone, a ‘migrant swarm’ that is neither migrants, nor a swarm and now we have a ferry company with no ferries. There’s some properly weird shit happening at the moment.
The announcement has been met with widespread scepticism:
Retweet if you think you could run a ferry service just as well as the company Theresa May's government has given a £14 million contract to which has never run a ferry service, owns no boats and has no trading history
Andy McDonald MP described the situation as “Farcical and desperate: No ships, no experience- just the type of company Chris Grayling would choose to keep vital trade channels open.”
And Clare Hepworth OBE pointed out what everybody was thinking – and I have no doubt the pun was intended: “There is something very very fishy about this!”
Yes indeed, as Conservative councillor for Ramsgate, Paul Messenger, pointed out, it seems clear the government has not carried out due diligence – sufficient checks to ensure that Seaborne can do the job.
If Seaborne really is owned by the brother of a huge donor to the Conservative party, it would be serious corruption.
The contract is one of three agreements worth a total of £107.7m signed by the government without a tendering process to help ease “severe congestion” at Dover by securing extra lorry capacity.
DFDS of Denmark is getting £42.3m and the French firm Brittany Ferries is getting £46.6m.
Oh, and while the Department for Transport says the tender was “competitive and open to a wide range of operators”, the Official Journal of the European Union, which logs government procurement contracts, says the awards were made after a “negotiated procedure without a call for competition”.
So there wasn’t even any competition for the contract – Mr Grayling just handed £13.8 million of our cash to a family of Tory donors for a job they can’t do.
Faced with this blatant government corruption, some have resorted to humour…
DEAR GRAYLING SIR. MY NAME IS PRINCE SEABORNE OF NIGERIA. I HAVE RECENTLY RECEIVED MANY FINE SHIPS AND WISH TO SHARE THEM. IF YOU CAN SEND £13,800,000 BY BANK TRANSFER, THIS WILL RELEASE THE SHIPS. THE TRANSACTION IS 100% SAFE. PLEASE RESPOND URGENTLY.
But the fact remains that the Conservatives – who insist that there is no money available to provide essential services for the well-being of the general public – are giving away millions of pounds to their friends for services they are unlikely to provide.
It’s blatant corruption. And I’m wondering why it’s happening now. Are the Tories rewarding their buddies now, because they expect a major defeat soon?
Note: Since writing this article I have been contacted by colleagues who believe there is no connection between Seaborne’s owners and Tory donors. That may be so, but the questions remain: Why did the Conservatives award a huge shipping contract to a firm that shows no ability to do the job? And why did they do this without any attempt at finding the best operator for the job?
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