A PLEA to save Cumbria’s only agricultural college from closure has gone to Number 10.

A cross-party group of Cumbrian MPs have written to Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, asking for his support in saving Newton Rigg College at Penrith from closure this summer.

Led by Penrith and The Border MP, Neil Hudson, the letter points out how vital the college is for educating the farmers and land managers of the future.

Dr Hudson said: “I continue to meet and gather stakeholders together to see if we can achieve a positive solution to save this vital college which is so important to Cumbria and the wider UK.

"I continue to press the case to the highest levels of Government and my message to folk is that the fight is not over. We will not give up.

"I urge the departing host institution Askham Bryan College, who have a moral duty to do so, to do the right thing and go into this next phase in good faith and ensure a smooth transition to a potential new provider. Penrith needs Newton Rigg. Cumbria needs Newton Rigg. The UK needs Newton Rigg.”

Owner Askham Bryan College in York had received two bids to take over the site, including a multi-million-pound bid from a cross-industry group, known as Newton Rigg Ltd. But the Further Education Commissioner concluded that neither of the bidding parties met the criteria to secure the long-term success of a potential new college.

However, Professor Andrew Cobb, chairman of Newton Rigg Ltd said it had now been invited to resubmit its bid with a new deadline of January 22, with a final decision made on February 12.

"Despite this new, even tighter deadline, we have been working with all relevant stakeholders with the aim of creating an incredibly strong Cumbrian bid that will save Newton Rigg, and we are continuing to hold positive discussions with our potential partner college this week,” said Mr Cobb.

“We are grateful for the strong support of Neil Hudson MP, and other local MPs, who share our belief that Newton Rigg can and must be saved. We hope that the community, staff and students are reassured that we will together do everything in our power to prevent the loss of this fantastic educational institution, and ensure a future for land-based further education in Cumbria,” he added.

Meanwhile, Kendal College has announced it will not be taking part in any formal rescue package for Newton Rigg, saying circumstances, including the impact of Covid-19 had meant the college has had to take a step back to concentrate on its core educational activities, but it would continue to offer advice and guidance on educational matters to those looking to maintain Newton Rigg for the future.