A cross-industry group that mounted a multi-million pound rescue bid for Newton Rigg College, earmarked for closure next summer, has now submitted its bid to create a 'college for the future'.

Known as Newton Rigg Limited, the group submitted its vision for the college to the Commissioner for Further Education. A decision on the successful bidder is expected by the Department for Education on December 18.

Their move is being backed by influential voices from the world of farming, business and national land-based organisations.

The intended closure was announced in May, after the college near Penrith revealed its flagging campus and falling student numbers had left it with substantial losses.A strategic review, co-ordinated by the government’s Further Education Commissioner to look at potential options, has already attracted interest from property developers.

Professor Andrew Cobb, Chairman of Newton Rigg Ltd. said: "Newton Rigg College needs commitment to realise its important future potential, not compromise. We should all be proud that we have pulled together as a community to fight for this to happen. We hope that our community's voices will be heard as competing bids are considered.”

As well as widespread support, the group has announced that Andrew Counsell, former Principal of Duchy College Cornwall, has joined their Board of Directors. Mr Counsell was member of senior management at Duchy College, Cornwall, for almost 30 years, serving 15 years as Principal and also establishing the Duchy Rural Business School. He is a member of the IFA Route panel for land-based and 10-year Vice Chair of LANDEX - Land Based Colleges Aspiring to Excellence.

"I am very pleased to work with the Newton Rigg Ltd team to keep the strong heritage of land-based education alive in Cumbria,” said Andrew Counsell. "I am impressed by the passion, drive and local enthusiasm for the College and its long traditions of high quality education. To address the many issues facing rural communities, current changes in Agricultural policy and environmental priorities, there is no doubt we need local centres of excellence for the land based community."

The group's Facebook page launched last week gained more than 1700 followers in just two days. Christopher Crewdson, Deputy Chairman, said: "We’re pleased to have this platform for the community’s voices to be heard and to demonstrate the public’s strong opinion that the closure of Newton Rigg College would be a hammer-blow to local provision for education and career development for young people and adult learners, not to mention to the future of our rural communities and landscapes."