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More headaches for trouble-torn Clydebank

Clydebank College, already hit by a bursary crisis and recurring financial difficulties, is now facing another long haul as it emerges from the grant settlement with the worst bargain outwith the safety-netted colleges. Its 5.7 per cent cut will wipe Pounds 372,000 from the budget and there will be no additional Scottish Office help.

The college management refutes charges of mismanagement laid by John McFall, Labour's training spokesman. But it has already had to wrestle with industrial action over its pay award to staff and last Wednesday was forced to issue a denial of a radio news report that it had gone bankrupt.

In a letter circulated to staff after the strike, Stuart Niven, the chairman of the college's board, said that only an extension of its overdraft facility and the rephasing of the Scottish Office grant would allow the salaries bill for March to be paid.

Alan Ferguson, the branch secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland at the college, said: "Some of the accounting staff in the college went through the books and they found that Pounds 300,000 had been put aside for possible repairs. We think that this was overly prudent. On the other hand the salaries of senior management have gone up and money spent on admin rooms" He added: "No college in Scotland is getting adequate funding, but the management have exacerbated the situation and we're having to pay for it."

Mr Ferguson also maintains that the college has used the short-term financial situation to to put pressure on staff to accept a lower pay award.

Mr Niven, however, believes that the college's financial predicament has been exaggerated and that with the rephasing of the grant in aid, coupled with the strong likelihood of extended overdraft facilities being granted by the Clydesdale Bank, it is secure in the short term. He added that consultants have been hired to undertake an assessment of the college's position.

"Every college has to have an exigency fund.I don't know where the unions get their figures from. Our financial situation is far from satisfactory but we have been safety-netted," said Mr Niven.

Hugh Walker, former principal of Anniesland College, took over at Clydebank this week.

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