Trade union leaders have condemned the decision to sell off Newton Rigg College by its operators, Askham Bryan as an “act of educational vandalism”.
A motion condemning the move to strip Cumbria of its 125-year-old centre of land-based learning was passed at last weekend’s northern TUC conference, moved and seconded by Penrith and the Border Labour Party members Iain Owens and Karen Lockney.
The motion gained unanimous support from TUC delegates from across the North East and Cumbria.
The conference condemned the decision of Askham Bryan, supported by the Further Education Commissioner and the Department for Education, to close the college.
It was resolved that the TUC’s Northern Executive would write to the governors of Askham Bryan, the Secretary of State for Education and the Further Education Commissioner condemning the “act of educational vandalism”, and to seek support from the shadow secretaries of state for education and environment, food and rural affairs for opposition to the closure.
Mr Owens, acting in his capacity as regional official for the northern region of the University and College Union, said: “I am pleased that unions across the region supported this motion and recognise the vital importance of Newton Rigg to the Cumbrian economy and way of life, and understand the impact this will have on learners and staff.”
Cumbria county councillor Mrs Lockney said: “The value of Newton Rigg College to Cumbria cannot be measured on an Excel spreadsheet, but by the opportunity it gives to the many young men and women who wish to stay in this county, whose aspirations are to work on the land.
“This is worth far more than the projected £12 million the owners will gain from the sale of the site.”
Askham Bryan say the campus, near Penrith, is not viable.
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