Those fighting to save Newton Rigg College from closure worked round the clock to meet yesterday’s deadline for the submission to the further education commissioner of a revised, single bid to take on its running.
York-based owner Askham Bryan College is pulling out of the operating the college this year.
Requests to the commissioner from Penrith and the Border MP Dr Neil Hudson resulted in a few additional days being granted from the original deadline of January 22.
A spokesman for one of the two groups which submitted the first bids in October, Newton Rigg Ltd, said last week: “We are progressing well with our potential partner college and other stakeholders to address the further education commissioner and Askham Bryan College requirements.
“We urgently requested an all-party meeting between ourselves, the commissioner, Askham Bryan and our potential partner college on Friday.
“We highlighted further information required from Askham Bryan and address the feedback provided by the commissioner earlier in the process.
“We also stressed the need for more time to ensure this real opportunity to secure Newton Rigg’s future is not compromised further.”
It is understood the other original bidder, the Hadrian Group, led by Eden farmer and businessman Kevin Beaty, is also involved with the revised bid process.
Meanwhile, Askham Bryan continued with its plans to sell off Newton Rigg’s assets as it sent in experts this week to assess the value of the property, fixtures and fittings.
A value of up to £12 million has been placed on the Newton Rigg campus and two farms, but much would depend on the timing of the sale and a wide range of other factors, including whether there is any demand for the modern dairy unit near the campus at Sewborwens — which cost £2.3 million — and the new buildings at the Low Beckside hill farming centre, Mungrisdale.
The campus and Sewborwens sites total 534 acres, with the hill farm coming to 415 acres, plus grazing rights for sheep on Mungrisdale Common.
Housing development land, of which there is potentially a large area at Newton Rigg, is worth around £180,000 per acre, while good grazing and arable land might fetch around £11,000 per acre and land of the type found at Low Beckside could secure £3,000 to £4,000 per acre.
In the 12 months to the end of July 2019 — the most recent year for which figures are available — the Askham Bryan Group had a financial deficit of £1.912 million, while the deficit in the previous 12 months was £1.559 million.