THOSE fighting to prevent the closure of Cumbria’s popular agriculture college hope they have done enough.

With the future of Newton Rigg, Penrith, due to be decided this month, one of those campaigning to keep the county’s ‘precious’ agricultural college open has declared it is in ‘real danger of slipping through the net’.

Adam Day, managing director at The Farmer Network, which has offices on the Newton Rigg campus, took to social media to post a photograph of a trailer on the roadside, which he said reminded him that the college’s future hung in the balance until the outcome of the independent review carried out by the Department for Education at the request of the college’s owner’s Askham Bryan in York.

“This vastly important institution is in danger of being closed for good," said Mr Day. "What a disaster for the hundreds of current students and those hoping to attend in future, not just in agriculture and forestry, but so many other vocational sectors too.

"We will need our farmers, foresters and gamekeepers more than ever in future, up there with the NHS, and this college must continue. Well done to the Gardiner children for doing this wonderful poster.

“The future of Newton Rigg College shouldn’t even be in doubt and I hope the commission understands the gravity and importance of the situation. We’ve all made our case, and our plea. Let’s hope it is enough."

A cross party collaboration, led by Dr Neil Hudson, Conservative MP for Penrith and the Border, and including Tim Farron, Mark Jenkinson, John Stevenson, Trudy Harrison and Simon Fell, has been vocal in its opposition to the proposed closure of Newton Rigg, which is a nationally-known specialist farming college and further education college for the Eden Valley.

It has been providing education for 124 years and also plays a big role in training people to support the health and social care sector.

Dr Neil Hudson MP said he was thrilled to have the backing of his colleagues in Westminster and from local government in this critical campaign.

“Now more than ever, in this current Covid-19 crisis, we must ensure this great institution remains and continues to play its vital role in supporting a strong and viable future for agriculture and food security," Mr Hudson said. "We will not stand back and let this precious campus disappear.”

He urged everyone across Cumbria and the country to show support for the college by signing a petition.

Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said if Newton Rigg was to close it would be a massive blow to the Cumbrian agricultural sector which is the backbone of the local economy. He added it would see a huge decline in young people training to work in agriculture, with the nearest colleges offering similar qualifications being in Dumfries or near Preston. "That is why it is critical local politicians of all colours work together to save Newton Rigg,” he said.

The Labour leader of Cumbria County Council, Stewart Young, added his support, saying it was vital that everyone worked together to secure the college’s future.