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Merger pressure

Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett is under pressure from Leeds politicians to ensure that a proposed merger of Airedale and Wharfedale College meets local needs before cash considerations.

The college is seeking to "merge" its way out of a cash crisis. Possibilities include going in with a higher education institution or another further education college. Bradford and Ilkely Community College has been mooted as a front-runner.

But local MPs say that any merger - which needs Further Education Funding Council approval - should get the best deal for local communities, students and staff.

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