THE merger of two East Lancashire colleges is set to go ahead this Friday, it has now been confirmed.

Accrington and Rossendale College and Nelson and Colne College have been holding a public consultation exercise ahead of the anticipated move.

And in a joint letter to the area's MPs, the respective college principals, Lynda Mason and Amanda Melton, say the unification will officially begin this week.

In the letter, the principals say: "The two colleges will merge on Friday, November 30, to create a single college which will offer a skills, vocational and occupational training centre, mirrored by a sixth form and adult community provision.

"Current students and applicants at both colleges will be unaffected."

The Lancashire Telegraph revealed last month that the colleges had secured £500,000 from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, via the Education and Skills Funding Agency, to support the switch.

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said that while he felt the move had been driven, in part, by government education funding cuts, it was "the right decision" for young people studying in East Lancashire.

The resolution to dissolve Accrington and Rossendale College and merge its holdings with Nelson and Colne is expected to be ratified at a special meeting on Wednesday.

Three sites will serve the merged college - a skills and technology centre at Accrington, the Lancashire Adult Learning centre at the former Brierfield Mills and the existing Nelson and Colne College building, with apprenticeships and higher education offered by the 'Pennine Colleges' brand.