MORE than 40 jobs are at risk at Kingston Maurward as part of cost-saving measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The large estate near Dorchester is a popular wedding venue in Dorset and hosts equestrian events, conferences, and private events as well as maintain an animal park and gardens and a college. 

Kingston Maurward College and campus closed its doors in March to all but a few staff members who were directly involved in caring for animals and other essential functions during lockdown. NHS staff at Dorset County Hospital were also offered use of its residential accommodation.

The Covid-19 pandemic has cost Kingston Maurward College and Estate a lost income of £1 million and say that job losses are necessary as they counteract the negative economic effects of the pandemic.

A spokeswoman confirmed Kingston Maurward has placed 46 staff members at risk of redundancy across multiple departments. 

She added that affected workers are primarily within commercial areas "where current restrictions and government messages suggest that for at least six months these areas will not be able to function economically."

Dorset Echo: Luke Rake, college principal, confirmed the 'sad' news about job cuts in a statementLuke Rake, college principal, confirmed the 'sad' news about job cuts in a statement

These include those who work within weddings, conferences and visitor attractions while some jobs at the college are also affected.

Affected staff members have been informed that their roles are at risk. 

Luke Rake, college principal, confirmed the 'sad' news in a statement and believed it is unlikely that large events will happen at the estate before Christmas. 

He said: "Sadly we are now in a situation where some redundancies are probably inevitable due to lack of possible activity in areas such as conferences, weddings and other commercial areas.

"The pandemic has cost the College and Estate in the region of a million pounds of lost income in the last six months so we sadly had to take action.

"We have tried to minimise the effects on as many staff for as long as possible such as topping up furlough payments to full salaries for several months as Kingston Maurward is a close-knit family, but the reality of the pandemic means we simply cannot continue to employ staff when the business isn’t there.  

"We don't envisage large events starting prior to Christmas now, but we will be retaining some staff in commercial areas to provide support due to the long lead times for events and to ensure couples and organisations we work with are not adversely affected next year."

Mr Rake added he expects there will be 'absolutely no impact' on sixth form students or their teaching due to the redundancies. 
Future events and functions at Kingston Maurward, which include weddings, events and equestrian events, have been cancelled and affected people are advised to contact the estate about rescheduling. 
Its animal park and gardens has reopened with a one-way system and two-metre social distancing rules in place.