A SOUTHAMPTON MP says he will be seeking reassurance that the government will support City College following the collapse of a merger.

It comes after a move to merge with Eastleigh was blocked by the government despite being months in preparation and would have led to job losses in senior management, finance, marketing, and human resources.

Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen which includes the college, said: “I am very disappointed in the government’s decision not to support the merger of City College and Eastleigh College. City College is an excellent facility giving our young people the opportunity to learn skills and obtain qualifications but we know it is too small to survive alone.

“It must be remembered it was also the government who refused to support a merger with Solent University and Southampton City College last year so I will asking the minister [for apprenticeships and skills, Anne Milton] what her plans are now to support the long-term viability of City College.”

As previously reported, Southampton civic chiefs are now believed to be wanting urgent meetings with the colleges to discuss the surprise announcement.

Councillor Sarah Bogle, the local ward member for City College whose campus is in St Mary’s, said: “We were fully supportive of the proposal so it is a surprise and disappointment that it is not going ahead.

“It is speculation and I don’t know what has happened, but usually these things are about money or governance.”

Last week, principals Dr Jan Edrich, of Eastleigh College, and Sarah Stannard, of City College, said in a joint statement: “While this decision is disappointing for both parties, it will not impact either college’s mission to continue delivering quality educational outcomes.

City College principal Sarah Stannard added this week: “I’d like to reassure students, staff and parents that it’s business as usual for City College and all courses are being run as normal.

“The government has assured us that they are committed to ensuring further education provision in Southampton and we now have an opportunity to explore other options as to how the college moves forward.”