Bidders for Newton Rigg 'do not meet criteria'

(Photo: Cumbria YFC)
(Photo: Cumbria YFC)

Newton Rigg College is set to close for good next year after none of the site's possible new owners were able to meet the criteria, a review has concluded.

The agricultural college was already earmarked to close in July 2021 after the present owners confirmed that it would no longer deliver education from the site.

Askham Bryan College said declining student numbers at the Penrith campus had left it with significant financial losses.

The government's Further Education Commissioner (FEC) along with Askham Bryan College had explored options for finding a potential new owner for the site.

But the FEC team's new review, published on 17 December, concluded that the bidders did not meet the expected criteria set.

"The recommendation to Askham Bryan Corporation was that they should not accept either bid, and that the corporation should subsequently proceed with plans for Askham Bryan College’s closure of the site by July 2021,"

However, the FEC proposed whether Askham could secure some form of 'reduced, alternative educational delivery' based at the site, focussed on land based education.

College principal Tim Whitaker said he understood 'the sense of disappointment amongst staff, students and stakeholders'.

"Given that the college is an exempt charity, the governors, as trustees, now have a legal obligation to secure the best outcome for the charity," he said.

Askham Bryan College has six campuses in the north of England including Newton Rigg. Its main site is based in York.

Around 117 staff and 888 learners are based at Newton Rigg, including 667 further education students and 221 apprentices.