The list of potential bidders to take over Newton Rigg College in Penrith will now be coming under the spotlight.

The next step in the fight to save the Penrith further education college, the only specialist provider of agricultural education in the county, from possible closure next July, sees proposals from interested parties being examined by the Government-led Strategic Review into Newton Rigg.

Run by Askham Bryan College, the announcement of the proposed closure, made back in May, prompted widespread calls to action on a solution to save the college.

One of those campaigning to keep the college open has been Penrith and the Border MP Dr Neil Hudson, whose extensive lobbying of Government was able to trigger the review of the college.

This week, Dr Hudson was able to report that the strategic review was progressing into the evaluation of preliminary expressions of interest from potential bidders.

Dr Hudson said: "We are now at an exciting stage of the Government-led Strategic Review to evaluate proposals from interested parties who are coming forward with innovative plans to take over Newton Rigg.

“The deadline for initial expressions has just passed and now the review will be evaluating those bids in order to invite a shortlist into the next stage of full proposals.

“I encourage staff, students and other Newton Rigg stakeholders that our campaign and work to save Newton Rigg very much continues.

“Newton Rigg is very much open for business this upcoming academic year.

"The fantastic results just announced from this year’s students really emphasise the case for Newton Rigg College to continue into its next chapter of providing first class education for students and supporting our rural sector.

“Colleges such as Newton Rigg are not only integral to their local and regional communities but in this case, it is vital for the national economy.”

Back in June, following the review’s announcement, a spokesman for Askam Bryan College said: “It is expected that the outcome of this strategic review will be presented to the college corporation in early December 2020, so that any transfer of ownership can take place in time for the beginning of the 2021/22 academic year.”