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Eden District Council's support for fight to save Newton Rigg

Eden District Council has pledged to support the fight to save Newton Rigg.

The council has been a constant exponent of the importance of the college to the District and to the county as a whole and is disappointed to hear of Askham Bryan’s proposed closure of the campus with effect from 31 July 2021.

This decision follows Askham Bryan’s request for an independent review of the Newton Rigg Campus, which was led by the Further Education Commissioner’s Office.  Having considered the review, which identified a number of significant challenges, the Askham Bryan College Corporation concluded that site closure was the only viable course of action.

The Council has worked closely with Askham Bryan to propose measures to ensure the long term viability of the campus ever since it was acquired by the college in 2011. Over the years a number of options and opportunities have been explored, in partnership with the owners.

The Council  has also undertaken studies and submitted funding applications in partnership with the College, as well as considering investment opportunities on the site to improve its long term sustainability.

The Council has always recognised that the College’s presence in the District provides the area with specific qualifications and skills training which are a huge benefit to its rural economy. In addition, the College provides good quality employment for the local area and it is imperative that this continues into the future.

Eden District Council leader, Councillor Virginia Taylor, said: “I was disappointed to hear that Askham Bryan College will stop providing education at Newton Rigg in 2021. Land-based education there has a long and distinguished history. It will be impossible for many students to travel to the nearest colleges outside the county so many will have to sacrifice their education.

"The Council is totally committed to working with partners throughout the county to develop a Cumbrian solution which can retain the best of the Newton Rigg tradition, including the talented and experienced staff. Innovative solutions need to provide for the traditional and future skills needed in agriculture and land-based technologies, for higher-skilled jobs in emerging new technologies, and for vocational education no longer provided in Eden following the regrettable closure of Appleby Heritage Centre.”

Eden District Council’s Deputy leader, CLEP Board Member and Chair of the Rural Sector Panel, Councillor Mary Robinson, said: “The Rural Economy is a critical part of Cumbria’s overall economy both from the contribution that it makes to UK food supply and also its important contribution to creating the landscape that we all enjoy here in Cumbria.

“We in the rural community are determined that provision is maintained beyond 2021 and will be working with all interested parties to help to achieve this. Almost everybody in the rural community has had a family member or friends attend Newton Rigg and has a very strong affection and association for it.

“Going forward we need to preserve the essence and heritage at Newton Rigg, whilst at the same time responding to the new opportunities in agri-tech and wider new technologies.”