James Airey combined his love of both farming and politics when he joined the NFU North West team as a county adviser in Cumbria alongside Helen Forrester.

IT is sad to see that the Newton Rigg Campus, Low Beckside and Sewborwens farms are now on the market. Unless there is a last-minute support package of some sorts put together, it seems almost inevitable that Cumbria’s much loved agricultural college will shut its doors for the last time.

This great educational institution will be much missed by the farming and rural communities of Cumbria and beyond.

The critical objective now must be to ensure that local land-based education can continue in Cumbria in some form or other. It is fantastic to see local farmers offering their premises as sites for possible training purposes.

Thankfully, there is a great deal of partnership working going on behind the scenes and we await how the various offers from local entrepreneurs and other education facilities come together to fill the gap that Newton Rigg’s demise will surely create.

Our county forum meeting on April 15 concentrated on the topic of rural crime. We welcomed the three candidates standing to be the next Police and Crime Commissioner to the meeting.

All three addressed members and set out their own vision for tackling crime in rural areas.

When you read this article the May 6 elections will have happened, and the successful candidate will be in place. It is our intention to work closely, not only with the police, but local neighbourhood watch to share information and do our utmost to deter criminals and make sure they are dealt with the full force of the law.

While the cost of rural crime continued to grow last year as organised criminals targeted the countryside, there are encouraging signs which demonstrate what can be achieved when we work together.

Increased use of tracking devices is helping police recover more stolen tractors and quad bikes. Information from farm watch groups and our members on the ground is helping to bring criminals to justice.

During recent months, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought out the best in many people - and the worst in a few, with crime continuing to plague the countryside and hamper our efforts to keep the nation fed.

Thankfully though serious crime is still rare, and it is low level crime and unthinking behaviour that often causes us the most difficulties.

As we begin to open up the countryside to visitors following the pandemic, it is vital that we again push the countryside code.

There are record numbers of people with a family dog. The dogs are not the problem - owners just need to ensure they are on a lead and under control.