PLANS for a £100m college merger have been called off after a row over who would head the new organisation.

The ambitious scheme to join colleges in Stourbridge and Dudley was set for completion in August next year.

However, on Friday December 14, Stourbridge College confirmed merger plans have been halted, claiming the decision was due to Dudley College wanting to focus on improvements following an "inadequate" OFSTED inspection report, published in February.

However Dudley College's Chair of Corporation, Viv Astling, denied this was the case and claimed problems with leadership was the real reason.

Mr Astling said: "Since February we have rightly been focussed, and will continue to be so, on our re-inspection, but we continue to assert our belief that the merger was, and still would be, in the best interests of students, employers and our local communities in the borough."

Heads of governors from both colleges revealed last month the new college would have been named Dudley Borough Group of Further Education', with the newly-formed Corporation made up of five governors from each college plus five newly recruited independent governors.

Mr Astling, said: "Regrettably, with no independent members appointed and Stourbridge College's refusal to use other persons of independent stature to assist with the appointment of the principal, the ten governors failed to agree on who would be the leader of the merged college and the Stourbridge governors decided to walk away from the merger."

Rosemary Slater, chair of Stourbridge College Corporation, said the college, rated as "good" by inspectors, would be concentrating on further improvement.

She said: "Stourbridge College has a great future and will continue to provide better and better quality education in the borough of Dudley."