Jumping the gun over Newton Rigg?

Date: Monday 7th February 2011

Sir, Your front page coverage and editorial (Herald, 22nd January) about the future of Newton Rigg was thorough as usual, but the headline telling us that Askham Bryan College was “set to take control of Newton Rigg” was rather premature.

Even the principal of Askham Bryan was quick to tell your reporter that the issue is still in the balance.

The news is quickly seeping out that the University of Cumbria aims to completely asset strip Newton Rigg by giving away ownership not just of the farms which have always been vigorously defended by the farming community in recent years but the whole site. The news goes down like a lead balloon!

Is the university actually thinking about giving away more than 1,000 acres of farmland and 53 acres of workshops, conference and residential facilities to another institution on the other side of the country for free?

How many millions of pounds are that site and farmland worth? Even accepting what we know, there is a huge deficit from the university which the bidder for the contract will have to swallow.

We need to win the argument that the site should stay in Cumbrian ownership and be protected by a trust whatever body provides the courses.

And why was it all so confidential, I wonder. Yours etc,