Forming a vital part of the Cumbrian farming community Newton Riggs future has been called into question. Organisations from across Cumbria came together this week in a virtual meeting to discuss the future of the Newton Rigg Campus in Penrith.

This meeting comes after the future of the historic farming college is in doubt after senior staff at Askham Bryan College in York, which has run Newton Rigg since 2011, called for a “strategic review” to be carried out into its operation.

Chaired by Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border after Askham Bryan College asked the further education commissioner to undertake a formal local provision needs analysis for the Campus.

It is a nationally known specialist land-based college, as well as the further education college of the Eden Valley.

The college has been providing education and supporting the community, specifically the Cumbrian farming community for over 124 years.

Cumbria as a county is the second-largest producer of red meat, and also the second-largest milk field in the UK.

The meeting which brought together key stakeholders discussed the holistic importance of Newton Rigg, its place educating future generations of key workers in the agriculture industry and environmental sector, and its wider curriculum and the integral part it plays within the community.

Dr Hudson said during the meeting: ‘In securing a positive, viable future for Newton Rigg, it is vital that we all come together to support this iconic campus and institution.

“Now more than ever, in this current Covid-19 crisis we need to have a sharp focus to look after and support the rural economy that provides sustenance for us.

“The long-term resilience of domestic food security and the agricultural supply chain must be protected, in addition to training people in key areas like health and social care. Newton Rigg has a vital role in helping this to continue.’

Supporting the need for the college, Jo Lappin, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Retaining a land-based college in Cumbria is essential as we are the most rural county in England.

“That’s why Cumbria LEP (CLEP) very much welcomed Dr Neil Hudson, MP’s meeting today, which brought together a wide range of stakeholders to explore with the FE commissioner how we can work together to create a long-term sustainable future for Newton Rigg.

“At this meeting, CLEP agreed to work collaboratively to develop a proposal to achieve this and present this to the FE Commissioner to inform their recommendations to the Askham Bryan Corporation.”

The MP continued showing his support adding: “I will continue to work closely with the stakeholders to support the campus as well as communicating their concerns to my colleagues in government.

“Penrith needs Newton Rigg. Cumbria needs Newton Rigg. The UK needs Newton Rigg.”