TONBRIDGE can begin the process of becoming a Fairtrade Town after a campaign by the Town Team was backed by the council.
The decision by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council’s Economic Regeneration Advisory Board, which came in Fairtrade Fortnight, was described as a ‘great shot in the arm for local shoppers and retailers’.
Howard Porter, Chairman of Tonbridge Town Team, was thrilled at the news. “We are delighted that the council has decided to support Fairtrade Tonbridge,” he said.
“This will give a great boost to the town and we are looking forward to working with retailers to put Tonbridge on the map as a vibrant Fairtrade shopping destination which offers great value and variety as well as ethically sourced products.”
It takes around three years for the process to be completed, and the Town Team will now move on to the next stage to gain official recognition from the Fairtrade Foundation.
It will form a steering group made up of local Fairtrade retailers and other partners in order to promote the benefits of Fairtrade throughout the year.
Nicolas Heslop, the council Leader, says: “The council is fully supportive of the initiative, and has recently passed a resolution to formalise our commitment to it.
“It is a great opportunity to encourage positive collaboration between Tonbridge-based businesses, local community organisations and faith groups for the benefit of the town and food producers across the globe.”
Mr Porter, who also chairs the local Green Party, said: “There are already retailers in the town offering Fairtrade products and we know there is demand from shoppers who want to know that what they buy has been sourced ethically.”
“The huge success of our award-winning farmers’ market is testament to this.”
Marks & Spencer Store Manager Lex Lake has backed the campaign. “We’re delighted to be able to support Tonbridge on its journey to achieving Fairtrade Town status,” he said.
“M&S was the first retailer in the UK to stock only Fairtrade tea and coffee, so it felt natural for us to get involved. Supporting Fairtrade is just one part of M&S’s commitment to respect our environment and the wellbeing of the people and communities we operate in.”
What is Fairtrade?
Fairtrade producers, for example coffee and tea farmers, are paid a price for their goods that aims to cover the costs of production.
They also receive the Fairtrade Premium, a sum to be invested in their business or community projects of their choice.
Around 1.6million workers in 74 developing countries have the right to earn decent wages, join unions and work in safe conditions.