Newton Rigg College set to close with loss of 117 jobs

The closure of a popular agricultural college in Cumbria is being described as a "hammer blow" to the region.

Newton Rigg College, in Penrith, wrote to staff on Thursday informing them that the college is expected to close at the end of the next academic year.

The decision will lead to the loss of 117 jobs and leave Cumbria without any specialist agricultural education provider.

The future of the farming school was uncertain after Askham Bryan College, which has run the centre for nearly 10 years, asked for an independent review to be carried out by the Department for Education.

The results found the site is not financially viable.

There are currently more than 800 students of the college and apprentices studying a wide range of courses.

The University and College Union (UCU) has said they will fight the decision, which they describe as a 'hammer blow' for the region.

Prince Charles on a royal visit to Newton Rigg in 2018. Credit: PA

UCU regional official Iain Owens 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. UCU will campaign to protect Newton Rigg College and to protect our members’ jobs.’

Learning planned for the next academic year, from September 2020 to July 2021, will commence as intended, and student recruitment and enrolment will also continue.

A spokesperson from Askham Bryan College said: "A final decision on whether or not the campus closes in July 2021 will be made following the completion of the statutory consultation in respect of College staff."