A PLEA has gone out to Cumbrian farmers to help build a case for the future of land-based education in the county.

A survey has been created by Cumbria Land Based Skills Strategy Group convened by the University of Cumbria with the aim of gathering the vital information required to build a case for retaining, expanding, and updating Newton Rigg College near Penrith.

National Farmers Union (NFU) members are being asked to complete the brief survey and to return it promptly.

Adrian Banford is the strategic lead for land-based education and skills training in Cumbria. He says: “The purpose of the survey is to review how people have used the college in the past and how they would like to receive training, education, knowledge exchange learning opportunities, now and what thoughts they have that might be useful in the future.

“We are also interested in exploring how you might like to access the college and other places and formats of learning.

“We are seeking responses from all ages and sections of the community, for those 16 to 25, those in work, for ‘up skilling’, for those who want to learn more generally about food production, our environment etc, or learn new skills to add enterprises to their current holding.

“We would ask if the whole household, even friends and neighbours could be encouraged to complete the survey.”

The submission deadline for the survey is Thursday, August 20.

Mr Banford adds: “Survey submissions will be added to the information needed to build the case to the Further Education commissioner that Newton Rigg should be retained.

“The survey will be anonymous and is gathered by the University as an independent party.

Meanwhile a search is now on for a new owner as the controversial closure of Newton Rigg College campus was confirmed.

Despite local protests, a final decision to close the Penrith campus by its governing body Aslham Bryan College in York was made on Monday. It follows the conclusion of a 45-day formal consultation process with staff of Newton Rigg and the recognised trade unions.

In June 2020, the FEC begun co-ordinating a new Newton Rigg Strategic Review to find a potential owner for the site, separate to Askham Bryan’s decision.The review hopes to promote the opportunity and test the ability of interested parties to fund and deliver their business plans and proposals for the site.It is believed several expressions of interest have been made in the site. These must be submitted to the FEC team by the end of August 2020 to be assessed against set criteria.