Newton Rigg College closure would be 'hammer blow'

Newton Rigg College Image copyright Google
Image caption A consultation is being carried out with Newton Rigg College staff

The closure of an agricultural college in Cumbria would be a "hammer blow" for the region, a union has said.

Newton Rigg Campus in Penrith has been earmarked for closure in July 2021 after an independent review found the site was not financially viable.

Its governing body said a consultation was being carried out with its staff.

The University and College Union (UCU) said the plans which would cost 117 jobs and leave Cumbria without specialist agricultural education.

Askham Bryn College, its governing body, said the decision followed the findings of a Further Education Commissioner review of educational provision at the campus and in the wider area, and a final decision would be made "following the completion of the statutory consultation in respect of college staff".

Iain Owens, the UCU's regional official, said: "This is a hammer blow for the people of Penrith and Cumbria who rely on Newton Rigg to provide education for their young people.

"The closure would leave Cumbria - one of the most agriculturally-dependant counties in the country - without any specialist agricultural education."

Tim Whitaker, chief executive officer and principal at Askham Bryan College, said: "Given the current economic climate, and the fact that no capital or revenue funding is available, we have no other option but to propose closing the facility in July 2021.

"We will do all we can to support our staff and students at this difficult time."

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