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Farron 'DISAPPOINTED' by university of Cumbria business plan that fails south lakes

May 19, 2010 12:00 AM
Tim on the Ambleside protest

Tim has led the campaign to protect Ambleside campus

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has today expressed his disappointment at the University of Cumbria's new business which offers little for the South Lakes, and instead places continued emphasis on Lancaster.

The cash strapped university has been beset by crisis since the recession and came close to not paying its staff's wages recently. The University of Cumbria, which is nearly £30m in debt, had to receive a cash advance from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) just to pay the salaries.

The university had previously planned to 'mothball' the Ambleside campus until a high profile community campaign led by Tim made the university offer major concessions and keep the Outdoor Studies department open.

The revised business plan has been submitted to HEFCE and to the North West Development Agency (NWDA) for their approval in order to guarantee long term funding for the institution. In the business plan major investment in Lancaster is planned but there is a real lack of detail on the future of both Ambleside Campus and the Newton Rigg campus near Penrith.

Speaking this morning, Tim said, "I have read the business plan of the university and I am left seriously concerned about the institution's commitment to our community. During our campaign to save Ambleside the university senior management promised that Ambleside would not be forgotten and the community would be involved - having read the document I think Professor McCaffrey should consider a career in politics! The document is littered with buzzwords and unspecific aspirations. I was left none the wiser about their long term plans for the Charlotte Mason site.

"I am planning to meet with the newly appointed business manager as soon as possible, to talk through the business plan and then bring together local businesses and Kendal College to make sure that as a community we can build a sustainable long term plan for the campus. I think a hospitality school and courses supporting engineering and green technology are they way forward for the site alongside undergraduate courses in outdoor studies. It's a testament to our community that we campaigned to keep students in our area and this fight will continue."