A large list of concerns about an upcoming college merger has been drawn up by the council.

Last week the consultation period into the joining of Epping Forest College into the New City College group closed, ahead of the merger in August.

This week Derek Macnab, acting chief executive of Epping Forest District Council, published a letter detailing the council and its partners' concerns.

Amongst them is the fear that the college will lose some of its status as a community asset in its bid to balance its books following a second financial warning notice last month.

While financial security is important, so is the need for it to remain "a college for Epping Forest, rather than a campus in Epping Forest," Mr Macnab wrote.

At the centre of the concerns are criticisms about how the proposed merger has so far been conducted.

Mr Macnab continues: "The haste with which this merger has been enacted has caused grave concern and consternation.

"For many interested parties, one month is too short a period to become aware of the consultation proposal document, obtain information, share and discuss it with members,

committees, managers etc and then construct and agree a response.

"The proposal document presents a merger with New City College as the single option for the way forward.

"Looking at the recent college performance improvements and the assets available to ensure financial viability, this merger would not appear to be the only option available.

"Given this as being the case, then a merger with a college serving a similar community and business base - such as Herts Regional College - would be preferable.

"Council officers have repeatedly made this view clear in the process."

Mr Macnab suggested a consultation lasting "several months" would have been more appropriate and that the lumping together of Epping Forest and Havering Colleges in the due diligence process - when Havering is not due to merge until next year - serves none of the colleges and their communities well.

He also underlined the council's fear that the college's land assets could be "liquidated in a way that disadvantages local communities and learners, in order to finance and

underpin the expansion plans of New City College in London."

Close bonds between college governors and community could be broken, Mr Macnab argues, and the syllabus at Epping Forest College could be "unduly influenced" by the wider group.

The letter concludes: "In summary, the Council has specific concerns as detailed above and an overall concern about the short timescale for responses which it believes inhibits respondents from returning a properly researched and considered reply.

"This is therefore presents an unsatisfactory basis for decision making that properly reflects key stakeholders views.

"Given its concerns, and a wish to fully engage with the merger process, the Council is willing to work with whatever partner takes over.

"It would be especially keen to contribute, in a constructive way, in addressing the priorities set out in this response.

"Although viewed as the ideal route to contribute to the merger process, whether such involvement is possible or not, the council would require some clear and specific pledges on the key areas of concern."