A CUMBRIAN peer is calling on all MPs in the county to help push for a Parliamentary Inquiry into the closure of Newton Rigg College.

Lord Dale Campbell Savours says he has been inundated with calls from the Cumbrian rural community calling on him to help save the Penrith campus due to close this summer.

"If all the MPs in the county joined forces to push the Defra Select Committee to hold an inquiry into how the college has been run by owners Askham Bryan College, then we stand a good chance of getting one," said Lord Campbell Savours.

"I have been having endless conversations with people about this. The rural community are up-in-arms

Former Cabinet member Lord David Clark of Windermere described Askham Bryan’s behaviour as “shameful”, while Lord Dale Campbell Savours accused the Yorkshire college of acting like a property company.

Lord Campbell Savours said: “It is interesting to note from their accounts that their approach over the years has been to acquire the site for nothing and only invest in things which show up in their books as assets, therefore increasing their asset base.”

He added that legal advice he had received was that Askham Bryan’s charitable status did not compel it to sell Newton Rigg and keep the proceeds, as claimed, but left it free to pass the assets free of cost to another charitable body with similar educational aims.

Former Shadow Cabinet member, Sue Haworth, said she had contacted every member of the House of Commons Defra Select Committee to carry out an urgent inquiry into the whole Newton Rigg College affair. "The whole business is very distressing," she said.

Tim Whitaker, Chief Executive Officer and Principal, Askham Bryan College, said previously in a statement: "Askham Bryan College has been transparent with staff, students and other stakeholders throughout the entire process, providing accurate and timely information in a responsible way.

"The College is aware of speculation about the purchase of Newton Rigg in 2011. None of the current executive management team were at the College at that point, however investigation into legal documents held by the College, related to Newton Rigg’s acquisition, in 2011 has confirmed that the College made no payment of £1.The College paid a seven-figure sum of money between 2011 and 2013 related to the acquisition of Newton Rigg. Subsequently, the College has invested over £4.4 million in capital at the site and subsidised a significant annual operating deficit at Newton Rigg. The College estimates that this subsidy amounts to up to £7 million between 2011 and 2020.”

Meanwhile, the group behind one of the two bids submitted to take over Newton Rigg, Newton Rigg Ltd., has pledged to now revert to Plan B, which includes plans for a new independent agricultural college for the county.