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College debt puts stress on council

Debts at troubled Soundwell College are placing the Learning and Skills Council under pressure to frame a policy towards colleges in financial crisis.

Soundwell, which serves north-east Bristol and south Gloucestershire, has approached City of Bristol College about a possible merger.

City of Bristol's governing body, which is now considering the offer, has said in a statement: "We regret the delay the local LSC review has introduced. If the LSC doesadopt merger, we hope it will happen speedily."

An LSC spokesman admits that the new body has yet to evolve a policy on mergers where one college has heavy debts. "Every case will be looked at individually," he said.

However, City of Bristol principal Brian Styles told FE Focus he understands guidelines are being drawn up. He is to meet local LSC executive director Paul May within the next two weeks and is hoping for some clear direction.

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