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Consultation launches on subsidy for the Gravesend to Tilbury ferry

People are being asked for their views on Kent County Council’s (KCC) subsidy of the Gravesend to Tilbury ferry.

Since 2000, the service has operated with financial support from KCC and Thurrock Council. The service runs 6 days a week between 5:40am and 7pm, with more than 100,000 passenger journeys a year made on the service.   

As part of negotiations with the operator around a recent contract extension, Thurrock Council, which is in special financial measures, has advised KCC it has concerns about its ability to fund the service in the longer term and currently, the subsidy is being funded exclusively by KCC.

Based on current costs, KCC’s budget allows for a subsidy of £55k per annum to support the ferry but without further external funding, and accounting for the likely cost of a new contract, KCC would likely have to allocate over £200k a year to sustain the service which would be an additional pressure to a fully allocated budget.

Due to the financial pressures KCC is facing, it is unclear whether KCC could commit to funding the service in its entirety moving forward and the funding that the council has historically made available would not be enough on its own to sustain the service. 

 

KCC’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Neil Baker, said: “The current contract for our subsidy is due to end in March 2024.

“Due to the updated financial position of the funding partnership between KCC and Thurrock Council, we are having to look again at our arrangement to subsidise this service.

“No decisions have yet been taken so I would encourage anyone with a view to take part in our public consultation.”

You can have your say by visiting www.kent.gov.uk/ferryconsultation from 8th January to 4th February.

If you have any questions or require any of the consultation material in hard copy, please email public.transport@kent.gov.uk.

For alternative formats and languages, please email alternativeformats@kent.gov.uk or call 03000 42 15 53 (text relay service number: 18001 03000 42 15 53). This number goes to an answering machine, which is monitored during office hours.

 

Go to Consultation page

7.30 - (WEB) Ferry Consultation_POSTER.pdf


Kent County Council (KCC) is preparing to consult on the future of the Gravesend to Tilbury ferry, because of doubts over future funding.

The service has required a subsidy from KCC and Thurrock Council since 2000 as the passenger revenue alone is not sufficient to cover costs. Today the contract provides a sailing every half an hour between 0540 and 1900 on Mondays to Saturdays and over 100,000 journeys per year are made on the service.

As part of negotiations with the operator around a recent contract extension, Thurrock Council, which is in special financial measures, has advised KCC it has concerns about its ability to fund the service in the longer term and currently, the subsidy is being funded exclusively by KCC.

Based on current costs, KCC’s budget allows for a subsidy of £55k per annum to support the ferry but without further external funding, and accounting for the likely cost of a new contract, KCC would likely have to allocate over £200,000 a year to sustain the service which would be an additional pressure to a fully allocated budget.

Due to the financial pressures KCC is facing, it is unclear whether KCC could commit to funding the service in its entirety moving forward and the funding that the council has historically made available would not be enough on its own to sustain the service. This means that there is uncertainty about the future of the service beyond the end of the current contract which expires at the end of March 2024.  The council will therefore be running public consultation to understand how the service is used and what the impacts would be if it were to stop running.

 

“As KCC is now the sole authority subsidising this service, we have a responsibility to the Kent council taxpayer to ensure we are spending money wisely.”  - Neil Baker KCC Cabinet Member and Highways Transport 

KCC’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Neil Baker, said: “We understand the important role this ferry service has in serving both Gravesend and Tilbury.

“As KCC is now the sole authority subsidising this service, we have a responsibility to the Kent council taxpayer to ensure we are spending money wisely.

“I am keen to get people’s views on this service, which is why I’ve instructed my team to launch a public consultation to help inform any decisions that are made in future.”

The consultation is expected to run in January. Full details and further information will be published on the KCC website.

 

KCC website

Jetstream Tours Statement

Richard Bain
Richard Bain
Managing Director, Jetstream Tours
"Jetstream Tours has operated Gravesend and Tilbury Ferry service since May 2017 and have come to know many of our regular customers personally. We know how important the ferry is to many whether it is for school, work or leisure, or local businesses and services who also rely on it operating. To ensure its continuation we urge all users and local businesses, past present and future to participate in the upcoming consultation to allow this historical and convenient crossing of the Thames to continue."