SOUTH Tyneside College has been accused of selling its rich maritime history down the river after launching a controversial new advertising campaign.
The college has put up posters throughout the borough, using the slogan: “Who gives a ship what we’re famous for – South Tyneside College, it’s so much more”.
Coun George Elsom, opposition leader on South Tyneside Council, has urged the college to remove a series of posters.
The UKIP councillor, who once served as a senior lecturer at South Shields Marine School, says he is “appalled” by the poster.
College chiefs say the marketing initiative is “light-hearted” and aims to highlight the variety of courses on offer, and does not disrespect its history as a maritime training centre.
The adverts are on display at South Shields, Chichester, Jarrow, Hebburn and Heworth Metro stations.
Coun Elsom said: “I am appalled by this campaign and I object to it.
“I have not met anyone who thinks it is a good idea.
“It denigrates the 150 years of maritime history of the marine school and the town.
“We have students coming from all over the world to study and stay in the town, and they are saying they don’t ‘give a ship’. It is outrageous and crass.
“I taught at the maritime school as a senior lecturer for 30 years, and did my cadetship there.
“It means an awful lot to me.
“I extremely proud of my maritime connections. But I can’t say I’m proud of this. I would tell them to take the advertising down, and be proud of their maritime heritage.”
South Tyneside College says the marketing campaign is a ‘light-hearted’ way to promote the variety of courses it offers.
A spokesman said: “South Tyneside College has produced a series of adverts as part of a wide and successful marketing initiative to positively raise our already-respected profile across the North East.
“The adverts are light-hearted, but relay the serious message that we are a college of achievement where people can significantly improve their life opportunities through high-quality education and training.
“The college’s image is incredibly important, and we looked long and hard at the content of these adverts to ensure they were suitable and would achieve the objective of widening our appeal.
“South Tyneside College has a long and enviable reputation for the quality and incredibly high standards of its marine teaching and facilities, and we care passionately about guarding that.
“We do not believe the adverts undermine that in any way, but instead enhance the fact there are many world-beating opportunities here.”