Questions remain unanswered about how much net profit Askham Bryan College, York, stands to make from the sale of its campus, land and other assets at Newton Rigg, Penrith, for an estimated £12 million.
Askham Bryan chief executive and principal Tim Whitaker claimed at a Parliamentary committee inquiry in April that the Yorkshire college had invested £4.4 million at Newton Rigg since 2011 — meaning it stands to make a profit of around £7.6 million — but opponents of the sell-off believe it might have spent as little £2.5 million, taking into account grants received and money from other sources.
This week, however, Askham Bryan claimed its overall investment at Newton Rigg since 2011 had been £5.1 million, with grants received totalling £1.9 million.
Major expenditure included: Sewborwens dairy unit, £2,264,001; Low Beckside sheep facilties £459,071; equine unit, £327,63; Newton Rigg campus demolition, £304,669; new stable block, £115,204; other projects, £337,568.
A statement from Askham Bryan said the Skills Funding Agency had paid for projects at Newton Rigg amounting to £1.36 million and covering developments including the Sewborwena unit.
Also, Defra granted £162,000 for Sewborwens; the Frank Parkinson Trust £50,000 for the reception building; Cumbria LEP £54,000 for residential and classroom refurbishment and a further £258,000 for Low Beckside; and Westminster Foundation £10,000 for Low Beckside.
Newton Rigg Limited — a group set up to save the Penrith college — have been trying to find out how much Askham Bryan has spent and received in connection with Newton Rigg.
A spokesman for the group said: “From the limited information provided it has not been possible to establish the true extent of none grant-funded capital investments made by Askham Bryan in the Newton Rigg campus.
“What we do know is that a significant level of grant funding from various sources contributed to the Askham Bryan’s investment in the dairy unit at Sewborwens, the National Centre for the Uplands at Low Beckside Farm and the developments at the campus itself.
“These investments relied on grant funding from the Skills Funding Agency, Defra, the Prince’s Countryside Fund, and perhaps other grant sources, too.
“We would welcome confirmation of the exact details, without which it seems very likely that Askham Bryan College did not invest £4.4 million of its own capital in Newton Rigg College.
“At the same time, Askham Bryan acquired Newton Rigg for nothing in 2011, then received rent of £3.4 million over the next three years from the previous owner, the University of Cumbria.”
Newton Rigg Limited also drew attention to the fact Askham Bryan has already sold Newton Rigg assets in Eden, including land at Eden Brows which made £179,000 and at Undercrag, Mungrisdale, which made £38,000.
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