Breathing space for college farm

By in Education

WEST Somerset College’s crisis-torn farm unit has been reprieved for another six months while the authorities search for ways to give it a permanent future.

Bridgwater College Trust, which has been running the school since last February, has agreed to fund the farm until August while it works on a business plan which is hoped to provide vital funding.

Trust CEO Peter Elliot told the Free Press this week that the farm was safe until at least August – the end of the academic year - and the trust was talking to other organisations to work out ways of keeping it safe for the foreseeable future.

Exmoor National Park Authority threw the farm a financial lifeline last year to save it from closure after most of the staff had been made redundant, but this arrangement ended in January.

Now the college trust has stepped in to keep the facility open to enable agricultural students to complete their studies by the end of the school year.

The £1.4 million facility, opened in 2009, appeared to be doomed last March when the trust decided it was not sustainable in its current form.

It was temporarily reprieved when over 1,000 protestors signed online petitions urging that it be saved and ex-students pleaded that such a valuable resource should not be lost.

Mr Elliott said the trust was currently working with a number of organisations to find a viable business strategy for the farm’s survival: “It has long been a valuable asset for the school as well as the wider community and its survival is very important”.