TWO colleges have rubbished claims their chiefs are raking in huge pay packets.
Figures released by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) reveal details of pay rises given to the principals of Hartlepool College of Further Education and East Durham College, in Peterlee.
They reveal that Hartlepool College of Further Education paid £130,000 in 2009-10, but bosses say that since the new principal Michael Bretherick took over he is paid £122,500.
The agency’s figures for 2009-10 say the principal of the Peterlee college was earning £162,000 – more than Prime Minister David Cameron and joint 17th highest in the country.
On top of this, it was claimed received benefits in kind of £15,000 and a pension contribution of £23,000.
This was an increase on 2008-09’s salary which was £129,000, along with an £18,000 pension contribution.
The same college has made a number of redundancies in the past year, including the axing of 18 full and part-time staff at its Bracken Hill nursery.
But college chiefs have moved to clarify their positions, saying the figures are not clear-cut.
A spokesman for East Durham College said: “The salary quoted was for our previous principal, Ian Prescott, and the current principal’s salary is in line with the national average.
“It was also for 2009-10 – before we went into the round of redundancies and before the nursery closed.”
The spokesman could not confirm current principal Stuart Wesselby’s wage.
It is claimed that Hartlepool College of Further Education’s principal, Michael Bretherick, received a salary of £130,000 and a pension contribution of £18,000.
This was up on the previous year’s figures of £112,000 and £16,000.
But Professor Aidan Mullan, chairman of the board of governors at Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “Hartlepool College appointed a new principal in November 2010, so the two figures quoted do not relate to a single individual.
“Prior to the appointment, the college operated with a principal and a vice-principal.
“At the time of the appointment, the post of vice-principal was not replaced, thereby producing an overall saving to the college.
“The college conducted extensive research in order to determine the salary for the post, after consideration of the size and complexity of the college, and the nature of the responsibilities involved.
“It believes that the salary determined is appropriate for the organisation and is certainly not excessive in a broad comparison across the further education sector.
“The true salary for the post is £122,500.
“The £130,000 referred to in the article was as a result of a handover period.
“The college has not made any redundancies, nor is it planning any redundancies for the forthcoming academic year.”