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Plea to Prime Minister to help save Newton Rigg

A letter has been written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a bid to save the future of Newton Rigg college.

Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, rallied the support of MPs from across the Cumbria and the Borderlands and neighbouring region to write the letter.

It was hoped that a new operator for the agricultural college would be found after existing operator Askham Bryan said it was pulling out.

Two parties came forward, but the Further Education Commissioner team, which had been co-ordinating a Newton Rigg Strategic Review, said that no parties had been successful in their bids to take over the institution.

There is now a small window of opportunity for the interested parties to resubmit bids, to make sure they meet the criteria laid out by the review.

Dr Hudson’s letter to the Prime Minister was also signed by Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, Workington MP Mark Jenkinson, Carlisle MP John Stevenson, Barrow and Furness MP Simon Fell, Dehenna Davison, MP for Bishop Auckland and David Mundell, MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale.

It sets out the background to the current situation, how the College trains students to go into the rural economy and health and social care sector, and how it plays a role in helping to achieve the Government-led initiatives to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, working for food security and upskilling our communities.

Dr Hudson said: “I was deeply saddened by the outcome of the strategic review as Newton Rigg College is so vital to the local economy and to my constituents and those of my neighbouring colleagues.

“I have written with colleagues to the Prime Minister today to call for his support in facilitating a transition to a new provider.

“The importance of this issue is demonstrated by strong cross-party support for the college that I have gathered in Cumbria at all levels of Government.

“Our goal is to ensure Cumbria and our region is not stripped of this vital agricultural college.

“I continue to meet with the interested parties and stakeholders and I am fully supportive of what they are doing in trying to achieve a positive outcome.

“I will keep making sure that Government hears loud and clear how important Newton Rigg is to our community, the rural economy, and the wider UK.

“I will not give up. We will not give up. Penrith needs Newton Rigg. Cumbria needs Newton Rigg. The UK needs Newton Rigg.”

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