THREE Cumbrian peers have called on the current owners of Newton Rigg College to lift the ‘wall of secrecy’ surrounding the institution’s finances.

Labour politicians, Dale Campbell-Savours, Baroness Sue Hayman and Lord David Clark of Windermere have united in a message to current management, Askham Bryan College in York, that they will do everything possible to save the Penrith campus and its courses, which are due to close this summer.

They have raised a series of questions surrounding Newton Rigg’s finances - in the same week it has emerged Newton Rigg Limited, one of two bids fighting to save the doomed college, has been forced to drop out for now.

In an exclusive interview with The Cumberland News, Lord Dale Campbell-Savours, a former Workington MP, issued a statement on behalf of all three peers.

“It is pretty bad show when I have to ask questions in the House of Lords on revealing secrets on financial dealings in Cumbria. Askham Bryan have been drawing resources out of NR for years to fund inflated administration costs for their Yorkshire operations, all done behind a wall of secrecy,” he said.

“They need to give us access to the books. These people are playing with historic Cumbrian assets. If they cannot manage it competently then get out and leave it to someone else who can.”

But Tim Whitaker, chief executive and principal at Askham Bryan, said they had been transparent with staff, students and other stakeholders throughout the entire process, providing accurate and timely information in a responsible way.

“Since Askham Bryan acquired NR campus in 2011, it has invested millions in capital building funds and absorbed significant annual financial operating losses at the site. This is information we have previously shared with stakeholders.

“No other college in the country is operating a campus on the turnover that is currently, or has historically, been the case at Newton Rigg. The annual losses run into millions of pounds over an extended period of time.”

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