Tuesday 17 May 2011

The import and export of live animals through Ramsgate Harbour

I did cover this recently in the comments and now the BBC have confirmed it I thought I ought to say a bit more about it.

A few weeks ago the council issued a seemingly innocuous press release saying that they were repealing the bylaw that prevented animals going into the harbour area.

What I didn’t realise at the time was that this seems to have opened the way for live animal imports and exports via Port Ramsgate.

Personally I am not at all keen on the business of transporting animals across Europe to the slaughterhouse.

However whatever your view on the subject, this will inevitably lead to animal rights protesters and although these people are probably not at the front of the queue when it comes to tipping paint over the leather jackets of Hells Angels, I suspect that they will see the small port of Ramsgate with its restricted access, either through the tunnel or along Military Parade as a softer target.

One is inclined to wonder what motivated the council to repeal such a useful bylaw.     


  1. Then there will be a huge policing bill and all this bad pubilicity for Ramsgate.

  2. Michael, The removal of the bye-law you refer to has nothing to do with the 'live Export' issue. The bye law refered to dogs cats etc. The issue of live exports on a commercial scale is covered by other legislation. As an 'Open Port' Port Ramsgate is required to take any form of legal trade. Until Central Government makes the export/import of livestock illegal, TDC do not have the power to stop it. This has been a problem since at least 1997. The best way to deal with it is to use our MPs to bend ears in Westminster

  3. Sounds about right Ken, the council have a law banning live animals from the harbour area, then they repeal it and immediately we hear that live animal cargos are to commence, then you come along representing the council and say that the law that has just been repealed banning live animals from the harbour, didn’t actually ban live animals form the harbour.

    Perhaps we need a special dictionary for this sort of thing:

    Banned: barred, disqualified, excluded, forbidden…… only apples to law abiding individuals and small firms, does not apply to large companies with lodasa money, or people who have been living entirely on benefit for more that one generation.

  4. Michael,, Sounds like you are becoming a bit of a clone for the husband of an eastern style eating place in Harbour Street! I am not representing the Council, I am telling you what had happened in the past, and of which I was part of from both political persuasions involved. If the facts are not that you wish to hear that is your choice. There is a serious difference between the Royal harbour and Port Ramsgate!

  5. Ken sorry, I married a woman not a place and have children not suburbs. I had forgotten that you lot don’t really represent anything much, until Thursday’s decision by the three wise men. My fault I tend to think of you as Ken of the council, stereotyping I know, but I guess you will forgive me if you think of me as some sort of location.

    Without putting your number tens right in it and spoiling a favourable outcome for you on Thursday, tricky I know with one of the indies having his sights on the chair of planning.

    Could you expand on what you said a bit into the realms of what you mean? Are you saying that the animal ban didn’t extend to the port? Despite all the signs there, saying “No Animals” probably paid for by us council taxpayers.

    Are you perhaps saying that imports and exports of wild animals have been going on at Port Ramsgate for some time and we just hadn’t noticed? Are you saying that the bylaw didn’t prevent the trade? I mean er just what did happen in the past there, I already know about the councillor who dressed up as an Arab sheik, the business with the tractor batteries, the boat lift falling down the hole and so on, just the bits relating to wild animals. A sort of “how did the chicken cross the port?” job.

  6. Michael, methinks you are being deliberately argumentative here. I don't have any trouble understanding the difference between bringing pets through Ramsgate Harbour and the importing/exporting of live animal cargoes through the Port of Ramsgate.

    Whether either is desirable or not is another matter, but it would seem it is not down to the TDC however much, as usual, you would like the opportunity to stir things for them.

    Perhaps we should all do, as Ken Gregory suggests, and lobby our MPs on the issue if it concerns us individually.

  7. Hmmm. A law intended to prevent one type of animal from using the harbour area could be used as the basis for a legal challenge to live exports.

  8. For God's sake Michael stop seeing conspiracies everywhere you look!

    The council and local politicians are as unhappy about this as everyone else but the responsibility and the supporting legislation lies with DEFRA!

    I wish it was up to us!

  9. 16.10 I wasn’t being argumentative by accident, the big signs all around Port Ramsgate, at the end of the Western Undercliff beach saying no animals, suggested to me that this bylaw applied to both the port and the marina.

    It does occur to me that while this new change could be highly beneficial to what the BBC describe as an unnamed company, it could be highly detrimental to the business activates already taking place at Port Ramsgate.

    This is why I am asking Ken to clarify the situation, something that doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

  10. Simon I don’t think that I am, the bylaw was repealed and the animal cargo testing all happened in a very short timeframe.

    Perhaps you could answer the following and put all our minds at rest here:

    Did the bylaw cover the port or just the Royal harbour? Ken implies it didn’t.

    Did any animal cargoes go through Ramsgate while the bylaw was in place?

    Where did the proposal to repeal the bylaw come from?

    Probably whether the bylaw would have stopped this, would only have been discover in court, but it does seem very strange that it was repealed in such a timely fashion, aren’t I the slightest bit suspicious about this?

  11. Michael, you have several Ramsgate Town councillors, including the one you said you were going to vote for, who are also District Councillors. Why not ask one of them your question or do you just like trying to embarrass Tories in North Thanet?

  12. 18.30 This wasn’t a town council decision, but a district council decision under the previous Conservative administration.

    I think it interesting that the BBC were unable to find out the name of the company involved too.

    By this I mean that in other cases of potentially disadvantageous maritime activity, say the fuel bunkering off Margate sands, the name of the company involved has always been public knowledge.

    I didn’t go out of my way to make a fuss over this one, in fact I rather played it down until the BBC publicised it.

    I didn’t embed distressing video footage of animal transport in the post, or other provocative things, I could have done.

    Both Ken and Simon have responded to my post, Ken implying that the bylaw didn’t apply to the port, which seems to mistaken as the signage relating to it was highly visible and then bumbling about me being married to an eastern style eating place and then saying. “If the facts are not that you wish to hear that is your choice.” What this is supposed to mean is anyone’s guess. So I tried to get out of him a response that made some sense and he didn’t, possibly couldn’t reply?

    Then Simon saying I am seeing conspiracies in the council that don’t exist. So I asked him a few straightforward questions that one would presume as a cabinet member he would have known the answers to and should have resolved the issue. Perhaps he will reply.

    I am only asking simple questions here not trying to embarrass anyone, and I am only asking North Thanet Tories because they are the only people who have commented here under their own names. I would guess that they aren’t that keen on live animal transport either, so why should it embarrass them to say what the council has done here.

  13. Sorry, Michael, but I'm inclined to agree with Dr. M that you see conspiracies everywhere.

    Perhaps you have not noticed, but some regular commentators on this site have disappeared recently and it makes one wonder if they have not become as bored as I, as you leap from one bit of scaremongering to the next.

    Obviously you are implying that some maritime company have made an approach and somebody else has trousered a fat wedge in the process. What makes it even sillier is that there are many in Ramsgate who will believe the story, after all we all know there is no smoke without fire, whilst others will milk it for political purposes.

    Have you nothing better to do? On second thoughts, please don't bother to answer as I am not interested.

  14. 19.51 have you contemplated the situation you are in, commenting anonymously that I am losing readership, while accusing me of scare mongering and then asking me not to reply to you.

    This issue is a headline in today’s BBC Southeast news, it relates to Ramsgate where I live, this blogs readership is running at about 20,000 per month, it hasn’t fluctuated apart from a steady increase in the last year.

    I am not implying anything just trying to find out what happened.

  15. And still nobody will answer the question. Did the byelaw cover the export of live animals? Simple question. Should be a simple answer.

    Interesting that nobody makes such a fuss when they about exporting/importing live animals at airports.

  16. 20.38 this is about transporting live animals across Europe for slaughter on arrival, to maximise profits, I don’t think air transport would come into the equation as the costs involved would more than cancel out any increase in profit.

    Air transport would be I think transporting live animals to and from sporting events.

  17. Conspiracy or no conspiracy, the Council should be aware of its reputation and take measures to prevent such theories from propagating. Silence can sometimes speak volumes.

  18. For God's sake Simon and Ken answer the questions that Michael posted at 17.53 and we will know that TDC has nothing to hide.

  19. The byelaw preventing animals within the Royal Harbour/Marina was relaxed, or at least ignored, several years ago, allegedly to allow dogs and cats onboard yachts. It used to be rigidly enforced until about the mid 1990s, backed up by anti-rabies regulations and controls. I'm pretty sure that Capt. G***, the then harbourmaster/commercial manager, had the byelaw repealed.

    However, TDC can prevent you taking your dog on the public beach at certain times of the year - so presumably it could use similar powers to prevent any other live animal crossing the foreshore to reach the ferries, if it so chose!

  20. Surely this is no-brainer-animals in transit will pose no threat to the health of our domestic livestock,whereas dogs and cats running loose around the harbour could be.
    any trade associated with the harbour must be a good thing for Thanet as increased income will help with our balance of payments and alleviate to some extent the fiscal problems we are all suffering.
    as for protesters-stuff-em!!!!!

  21. 21.25 it wasn’t repealed in the 1990s this is an extract from the minutes of the full council meeting held in December 2010, five months ago.

    Ramsgate Harbour Byelaw No. 44 PDF 54 KB

    Annex 1 - Extract from Ramsgate Harbour Bye-Law No. 44, item 236. PDF 45 KB

    It was proposed by Councillor Latchford, seconded by the Leader, that the recommendation contained in the report be adopted, namely:

    “That Council agrees to commence procedure leading to repeal of Byelaw 44 of the Ramsgate Harbour Byelaws”.

    In answer to a Member’s query, Brian White, Director of Regeneration Services, stated that Byelaw 44 replicated existing legislation.

    On being put to the vote, the motion was declared CARRIED.

    A request was made and it was agreed that all Members be informed of the processes leading up to a repeal.

  22. Michael it looks like ports are powerless to stop this trade if you care to google "live exports and portsmouth'. But Portsmouth council mounted a concerted effort together with the local MP and others to persuade the ferry company not to take part. Now thats something TDC could do if they were so against the trade.

  23. 21.54 I think the whole point of this thread is that Ramsgate had this old bylaw in place that prevented animals from entering the harbour.

    I think if anyone had tried to oppose this I could have taken years in litigation and consultation to get the thing repealed.

    By which time the government would probably have handed the power to stop this trade to local government.

    It is the timing of this that looks so bad and why I am surprised that two councillors have commented here and then failed to respond to reasonable questions, even with an answer of I don’t know but will find out in the morning.

  24. There is much talk on the news about demonstrations at the harbour. Similar to those at Dover a few years ago. Demonstrations should liven the place up. It often gets a bit boring around here.

    Personally, I do not like the export of live animals for slaughter.

    We should look to Parliament to stop it.

    Maybe TDC are in this up to their necks, or maybe not. I do not know. But I will say this in TDC's defence. If they are behind this then it will not be for any wilful disregard of animal welfare, but rather just local government purblind incompetence. I expect they may simply want to see Thanet prosper.

  25. Michael.

    I'm sorry but for once you are in the wrong.
    This issue was tested by Dover Harbour Board when they tried to stop the export of live animals in the mid-90s. Ken may be right with 1997. The exporter went to court and got a ruling that if the trade was legal (it is, unfortunately) and that there was capacity within the port to handle the traffic (there was) then the port could not stop the traffic. It became known locally as the Meridian Ruling after the shipping company that brought the action. P&O and Stena Line had ended their involvement in the trade so other private operators ran out of Number 1 berth in the Eastern Docks. This berth has now been closed as being structurally unsound so the operator has had to look around for another port to handle his ship. Unfortunately Ramsgate has spare capacity so is unable to legally prevent the trade - what they will do is what they have been doing in Dover for years and travel only at night. Until the Government bans the trade (and the previous lot showed no desire to do so, before Tony Ovenden climbs on to his Lord of Ramsgate high horse) these people can operate out of any port where there is capacity.
    The ships name is the Jolene and it's lying in Calais at the moment.
    The byelaw was repealed for the benefit of yacht owners - there was quite extensive coverage at the time in IoTG.

  26. I was working at the harbour in the 1990's and can remember the removal of the no dogs signs - before that people were stopped and I think even prosecuted - so if the bye law wasn't repealed why did the council stop enforcing it?

  27. To 'Fed Up With Politicians,

    Thank you. Now I understand.

  28. Thank you John. I can hunt down a good conspiracy with the best of them but there isn't one here. NOt wanting the trade (which I don't) is not the same as being able to do anything about it. The operator may not be called Meridian Shipping this time but behind it will be the same group of farmers as was behind that Ruling.
    Even if there were no Meridian Ruling free movement of trade within the EU is in force so stopping this traffic is stymied on two counts. They could try lobbying the MPs but I'm not sure there is much that they can do.

  29. “That Council agrees to commence procedure leading to repeal of Byelaw 44 of the Ramsgate Harbour Byelaws”.

    In answer to a Member’s query, Brian White, Director of Regeneration Services, stated that Byelaw 44 replicated existing legislation."

    This means surely that whatever legislation Byelaw 44 replicated is still in existence.

  30. An attempt to run this trade was started from Brightlingsea, in I think, the 1990's and when the first lorries arrived the whole road to the port was blocked by protestors and the attempt was abandoned I believe.

    As FedUpWP says "free movement of trade in the EU" exists so I don't think our MPs will do much to fight it.

    Looks like the road to the port is set to be a battle ground

  31. As I think I have pointed out before this post is essentially about the harbour bylaw preventing live animals from entering the harbour.

    I would have thought it is pretty obvious that if you have a law preventing animals entering the harbour then it would have some effect on live animal exports.

    Whether the repeal of the bylaw and the live animal export setting up, berthing tests etc all with in a very short period of time are related seems unclear.

    If I have made errors either in this post or my comments here I will of course retract them, although I can’t see any effective way of doing this without responses to the questions I have asked our councillors who commented here.

    I have put these questions along with some more technical ones about the legality of the repeal procedure and the state of the repeal to the council and am awaiting a reply.

  32. Dr M and Ken

    Lets look at the Audit Commission and that I personnel took issue with this matter (Cllr Green would verify this) that TDC did not have a Policy on this and exports through Manston.

    Its a bit rich having a go at Michael when the locals told the AC and the then ruling party sometime ago about having no policy on live animals and Port control issues.

    Dear G-D some Cllrs should really get out and about more!!!

    As for stating that they (TDC) can do nothing about them yes you can...you choose not to?

    Malcolm - the real one

  33. I'll certainly be protesting there.

  34. I support British farmers. If they can make extra money by exporting live animals then so be it.

    Why do people get so worked up over sheep?

  35. Typical of the councillors to wade in and then go quiet when they get found out. Remember the case of the refreshments paid for by the council chairperson - or thats what they wanted us to believe until the facts came out.
    Or the man in Panama still being signed in to council meetings. Or why the doors to the council chamber were locked when Tony BNM tried to get out.
    Is this a simmilar case or are they still researching the answers?

    Just a simple we dont know/we are unsure will stop the guess work that something underhand has gone on.

  36. 18:36 are you totally naive. Nothing will ever stop the guess work and suspicion in Thanet that something underhand has gone on. It is what most Thanet bloggers survive on.

    Even if the council published everything in neon lights ten foot high along the sea front there are still people who would suggest it all goes on behind closed doors.

    The query was answered back in the second comment wherein it was explained that the bye law related to cats and dogs not live exports. Sod that though, Michael was off in full cry with his following yelping along behind like a pack of hounds and nothing would have stopped them.

    Be honest, you don't want the truth, you just want an excuse to moan, point the finger and fantasize about vested interests.

  37. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  38. 23.11 I have modified your comment below, removing the company name and address as I can’t substantiate this and anonymous posts accusing others of things are something I take the rap for.

    "the company or agent who wants to export is probably

    with ref the bye law, the likelihood is that tdc exceeded its powers, i was under the impression that a harbour byelaw could only be repealed by the Secretary of State, but i am sure there is one of your readers on here who knows.

    18 May 2011 23:21"

  39. I'm not going to get involved with all the legal arguments, but just a thought - TDC benefit by so much a head on passengers (I believe) so why not set a really high rate for per head of animals passing through the port. The Port will still be an "open" port.

  40. Political views be damned, why should any living thing, whether it be human, animal, vegetable or mineral, (in all respects of every word), be subjected to the type of pain, that we luckily have never been through. Forget power and forget games, and think what we can do to ease the horror, of what some 'beings can go through'. Im not a fanatic, but surely enough is enough. KR


Comments, since I started writing this blog in 2007 the way the internet works has changed a lot, comments and dialogue here were once viable in an open and anonymous sense. Now if you comment here I will only allow the comment if it seems to make sense and be related to what the post is about. I link the majority of my posts to the main local Facebook groups and to my Facebook account, “Michael Child” I guess the main Ramsgate Facebook group is We Love Ramsgate. For the most part the comments and dialogue related to the posts here goes on there. As for the rest of it, well this blog handles images better than Facebook, which is why I don’t post directly to my Facebook account, although if I take a lot of photos I am so lazy that I paste them directly from my camera card to my bookshop website and put a link on this blog.