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‘Genuine chance’ to save Newton Rigg college

Newton Rigg

A consortium set up to save Newton Rigg has called on the Government to halt the sale of the college’s land and assets as it claims there has been a “significant development”.

Newton Rigg Ltd was told last Friday that its bid to take on the college, currently run by Askham Bryan, had not met the Government’s strategic review’s standards to go forward.

But today, Newton Rigg Ltd said it was in “fast-paced discussions” with a major college that is keen to facilitate Newton Rigg Ltd’s proposals, creating a genuine opportunity to save the college.

Askham Bryan announced earlier this year that it was pulling out of running the college next year.

Newton Rigg Ltd has directly requested that the Government take action to prevent any sale of Newton Rigg land and assets while conversations continue and in any event until the end of February 2021.

Andrew Cobb, chairman of Newton Rigg Ltd, said: “On 18th December, the Further Education Commissioner informed us that the main reason our bid was rejected was because we had, in the very short timeframe of the strategic review process, been unable to finalise an agreement with a partner college that would facilitate the transition of provision at Newton Rigg College from Askham Bryan’s ownership.

“However, we have since been engaged in fast-paced discussions with a significant college group who are actively exploring ways they will facilitate our proposals for the Newton Rigg College, with a shared commitment to the future of our community.

“We are working towards a supportive relationship, not another merger.

“This will enable a seamless transition with the aim of eventually establishing Newton Rigg College as an independent institution in its own right.

“We are confident that an agreement will be concluded soon after our meetings resume at the start of January.”

Newton Rigg Ltd has written to the Further Education Commissioner and Penrith and the Border MP to outline the development and formally request that Askham Bryan College be prevented from selling any Newton Rigg land or assets while conversations continue and in any event not before the end of February.

Mr Cobb added: “The overriding purpose of the Government’s Strategic Review was to promote and facilitate a stable and secure future for further education at Newton Rigg College; to prevent the stripping of educational assets from Cumbria and preserve the public benefit to our communities through education.

“For that reason, we hope that the Government will embrace this genuine opportunity to prevent Newton Rigg’s closure and that they will take immediate action to prevent Askham Bryan College from moving forward with any sales of property or assets.

“We welcome Neil Hudson MP’s hard work and genuine commitment to saving Newton Rigg College and will be calling on all local MPs to support us in our request.”