A FORMER MP has warned that Cumbria will "fight to the end" to stop York’s Askham Bryan College selling off a campus in Penrith.

Lord Dale Campbell-Savours said that he and other campaigners against the sale of Newton Rigg had a "team of first class lawyers working on our case, ready to act if necessary in the courts".

He spoke out as the York college revealed that its sale of Newton Rigg, launched on Tuesday, includes two farms which have a combined guide price of more than £7 million: Sewborwens Farm, in Penrith, with a guide price of £5,500,000 and Low Beckside Farm in Mungrisdale, with guide price of £1,725,000.

However, a spokeswoman said the campus itself was involved in a marketing and tender process without a guide price being issued to interested parties at this stage.

The Press reported on Tuesday that the sale was going ahead despite a storm of protest in Cumbria, which culminated in MPs slamming it as an "absolute disgrace" at a Defra select committee meeting in March.

Lord Campbell-Savours, the former long-serving MP for Workington, said yesterday in a statement: “The people of York need to know that their fine college with its equally historic traditions is now asset stripping on a scale unparalleled in my 42 years in the Commons and now in the Lords.”

He claimed Newton Rigg was "perfectly viable" as an agricultural college if properly managed by a new generation of Cumbrians working on site and not in York.

He added: “I along with thousands of Cumbrians of all political persuasions are outraged by Askham Bryan’s actions.”

College principal and CEO Tim Whitaker said it was "legally within its rights" to proceed with the closure and sale of the campus, and this had been confirmed by Government minister Gillian Keegan.

He also said the college "strongly refutes" asset stripping claims after having invested more than £4.4 million in capital and subsidised a significant annual operating deficit at Newton Rigg.

He added: “The college estimates that this subsidy amounts to up to £7 million between 2011 and 2020.”