ASKHAM Bryan College has announced its intention to market Newton Rigg’s assets for sale – the day after the chair of the EFRA Committee highlighted unanswered questions regarding its closure.

It was announced on Friday 30 April that the assets have been marked for sale from 4th May.

A spokesperson from Newton Rigg Ltd, the community organisation fighting to save the college and rebuild land-based education in Cumbria, responded to the news: “Thursday’s letter from the Chair of the EFRA committee to the Secretary of State not only highlighted the wider importance of land-based education but clearly outlined many of the critical questions that must still be answered regarding Askham Bryan College’s proposed sale of Newton Rigg, one of the country’s most important and longest-standing agricultural colleges, as well as the ‘policy mistake’ that placed these precious Cumbrian assets at risk when they were transferred to Askham Bryan College’s ownership back in 2010/11.

“Newton Rigg’s land and buildings, with a market value of £8.3 million, were transferred to Askham Bryan College for nothing in 2011 on the basis that educational provision would continue. The chair’s letter recognised that during this process, the ‘policy decision’ to release Askham Bryan College from the restrictions of a long-standing Asset Deed, intended to protect Newton Rigg’s assets for educational use and remove the risk of the disaster we face today, ‘appears to have been a mistake’.

READ MORE: Action plan to save Newton Rigg launched

“For Cumbria to lose Newton Rigg College – and its only specialist land-based educational provision – as the result of a ‘policy mistake’ is beyond unacceptable.

“As the letter states, ‘the closure of Newton Rigg will leave Cumbria without any specialist land-based educational provider for the first time in over 100 years’ and while Askham Bryan College are acting to secure its financial position and observe its obligation to other students, ‘Newton Rigg remains an important community asset and its closure means that its value will be lost to both the land-based educational sector and the local community’.

“Cumbria and the North West of England will be deprived of any dedicated land-based college within 69 miles of Penrith, while Yorkshire will have three Colleges and several campuses. We will not stop asking why Cumbria’s land-based and further education is being sacrificed to protect another region.

“this is not levelling up; it is blatant levelling down.

“As if to add insult to injury, only this morning, Boris Johnson himself backs a national campaign to ‘shine a light on the enormous contribution farmers bring to our communities’. This is no time for cognitive dissonance. This is no time for policy mistakes to result in the loss of an educational institution that is so critical to the future of farming and land-based industry.

“The Government can still take action to save Newton Rigg College. Give it back to Cumbria and we’ll make it work; let it go and it’s lost forever.”

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