More than 100 members of teaching staff are to lose their jobs after Newton Rigg College announced it will close next year because it is no longer financially viable.

The closure of the facility, which is run by Askham Bryan College would see 117 job losses and be a “hammer blow” for the region, said University and College Union (UCU).

Tim Whitaker, principal of Askham Bryan College, said: “We understand the strength of feeling about Newton Rigg and the fact this will be upsetting news to our staff, students and the local community.

“This has been a very difficult decision. We regret putting staff at risk of redundancy.

“Given the current economic climate, and the fact that no capital or revenue funding is available, we have no other option but to propose closing the facility in July 2021.”

The UCU has vowed to fight the closure of the agricultural campus based in Penrith.

UCU regional official Iain Owens said: “This is a hammer blow for the people of Penrith and Cumbria who rely on Newton Rigg to provide education for their young people.

“The closure would leave Cumbria - one of the most agriculturally-dependant counties in the country – without any specialist agricultural education.

“UCU will campaign to protect Newton Rigg College and to protect our members’ jobs.”

Penrith and the Border MP Dr Neil Hudson said: “This is hugely disappointing news for the students and staff of Newton Rigg. I have been and continue to work hard to secure a future for this valuable and important college.

“I have held meetings with stakeholders, ministers, the FE Commissioner’s Office and Askham Bryan. One small glimmer of light for us is that Askham Bryan have listened to my call for them to delay the implementation of their decision for as long as possible, and the fact that Newton Rigg will be open for business as normal this coming academic year gives us the window to implement a rescue plan.

“I will continue to do my utmost to secure a viable future for Newton Rigg. It is so important to our rural economy, both in Cumbria and the wider UK.”