Kent

Thanet principal: Future of students in east Kent 'gambled with'

A college principal has said his students' futures are being "gambled with" unless politicians decide on a clear economic vision for east Kent.

Graham Razey, of Thanet College, said it must be decided whether tourism, the expansion of Manston Airport or green policies offer the best opportunities.

Unemployment in Thanet is more than double the South East average.

Thanet District Council said the private sector is also responsible for growth.

Kent County Council figures show unemployment in Thanet is 6.2% of the population, compared with the south east average of 2.6%.

'Lost opportunity'

Mr Razey disagreed with Thanet District Council's decision to oppose all night flights at Manston Airport.

"I just hope we haven't lost an opportunity to create many jobs for our young people," he said.

"Farnborough College of Technology has a specialist centre for the training of aviation. Why not Thanet College working in conjunction with the airport to create the specialist training needed for the 3,000 to 4,000 jobs that I think are achievable?"

Mr Razey said in order to design the right courses, he needed to know what sort of employment the area was trying to attract.

He said: "We need to know what we want to be. We need to have a coherent strategic plan for east Kent."

Rob Hetherington, head of regeneration at Thanet District Council, said: "What we're trying to do on the economic development side is move away from it just being the council driving this.

"Regeneration is not just the remit of the council, there are other public sector bodies involved in it and the private sector.

"We've bought together the Thanet Regeneration Board to widen the remit of people trying to steer the regeneration agenda, so it's not just the local authority."

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