'Significant' new steps have been taken in the efforts to save Newton Rigg College.

Newton Rigg Ltd today announced a major development in its bid to save the college, and has called on Government to take action to prevent Askham Bryan College from selling land or assets.

The fight to save Newton Rigg College has intensified over the last few days, with significant new steps taken to secure the future of the college.

The group has been in fast-paced discussions with a major college that is keen to facilitate Newton Rigg Ltd’s proposals, creating a genuine opportunity to save the college.

Given this major development, the company has directly requested that the Government takes action to prevent any sale of Newton Rigg land and assets while conversations continue and in any event until the end of February 2021.

Andrew Cobb, chairman of Newton Rigg Ltd, said: “On December 18, the Further Education Commissioner informed us the main reason our bid was rejected was because we had, in the very short timeframe of the Strategic Review process, been unable to finalise an agreement with a partner college that would facilitate the transition of provision at Newton Rigg College from Askham Bryan’s ownership.

"However, we have since been engaged in fast-paced discussions with a significant college group who are actively exploring ways they will facilitate our proposals for the Newton Rigg College, with a shared commitment to the future of our community.

"We are working towards a supportive relationship, not another merger."

He continued: "This will enable a seamless transition with the aim of eventually establishing Newton Rigg College as an independent institution in its own right. We are confident an agreement will be concluded soon after our meetings resume at the start of January 2021."

Mr Cobb said Newton Rigg Ltd yesterday wrote to the Further Education Commissioner and Dr Neil Hudson MP to outline the critical development and formally request Askham Bryan College be prevented from selling any Newton Rigg land or assets while conversations continue - and in any event not before the end of February.

"The overriding purpose of the Government’s Strategic Review was to promote and facilitate a stable and secure future for Further Education at Newton Rigg College; to prevent the stripping of educational assets from Cumbria and preserve the public benefit to our communities through education.

"For that reason, we hope that the Government will embrace this genuine opportunity to prevent Newton Rigg’s closure and that they will take immediate action to prevent Askham Bryan College from moving forward with any sales of property or assets.

"We welcome Neil Hudson MP’s hard work and genuine commitment to saving Newton Rigg College and will be calling on all local MPs to support us in our request.

"We would like to again express our thanks to the community and the very committed staff at Newton Rigg College who continue to excel themselves throughout this immensely difficult time.

"We would like to again reassure our community this fight is not over,” he added