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Cumbria LEP Board respond to Newton Rigg decision

Newton Rigg Newton Rigg

At its meeting today, the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) Board responded with disappointment to Askham Bryan’s proposed closure of its Newton Rigg campus with effect from 31 July 2021.

The decision follows Askham Bryan’s request for an independent review of provision at the Newton Rigg Campus, which was led by a team from the Further Education Commissioner’s Office.  This week members of the Askham Bryan College Corporation considered the review, which identified a number of significant challenges related to demand, finances and estate development and based on this concluded that site closure was the only viable course of action.

Lord Inglewood, CLEP Chair, said: “This is clearly very disappointing news, particularly for me personally as a former student at Newton Rigg. Here in Cumbria we see Newton Rigg as symbolic, given our land based industries and the importance of these to Cumbria and its economy.  We are committed to finding an alternative future for Newton Rigg and are working with potential investors to explore opportunities to achieve this.  Alongside this, lead Board members are working in partnership to identify what land-based provision is required, going forward. CLEP will do everything it can to secure a long term, sustainable future for Newton Rigg.”

Julie Mennell, CLEP Board Member and Vice Chancellor of the University of Cumbria, said: “As the anchor HE Institution in Cumbria we want to step forward and work with partners to develop a strategy for land-based provision in Cumbria. We in the University will provide leadership to support this aim, in collaboration with CLEP’s People, Employment and Skills Strategy Group (PESSG). The need for pace is understood as is the significance of addressing the long-term future of the land-based provision in our county.”

Mike Smith OBE, CLEP Board member and Chair of PESSG, added: “The provision provided by Newton Rigg is extremely important to Cumbria, recognising that we are in land terms the most agricultural county in the Country.  It is counter-intuitive that we would not have land-based provision operating here in Cumbria.  The members of PESSG are committed to working with colleagues in the University of Cumbria to develop a strategy for land-based provision and to discuss the delivery of this with any future investors and operators.”

Mary Robinson, CLEP Board Member and Chair of the Rural Sector Panel, went on to say: “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 friend 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.”

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