Are we Fairtrade flops?

Hannah Reed from the Fairtrade Foundation presents the certificate to Francois Henderson of the Steering Group, Mike Penning, MP, and Leader of the Council Andrew Williams.
Hannah Reed from the Fairtrade Foundation presents the certificate to Francois Henderson of the Steering Group, Mike Penning, MP, and Leader of the Council Andrew Williams.

HEMEL Hempstead’s Fairtrade status may have to be scrapped because no one has stepped up to lead the initiative.

Council chiefs say people in Hemel Hempstead are not interested in the scheme which guarantees farmers and workers in the developing world a better deal for their produce.

And that means the town’s Fairtrade status, secured in 2008, may not be renewed next year.

Dacorum Borough Council spokesman Sara Hamilton said: “The council originally kick-started the process to achieve Fairtrade status for Hemel Hempstead in 2008. It was the 13th town in Herts to be awarded the status, and the 458th in Britain.

“However, the rules of the Fairtrade Foundation state that there must be a community-led steering group.

“For the past two years there have been appeals for interested people to come forward and lead a group.”

To become a Fairtrade Town five goals must be met – the council must pass a resolution supporting Fairtrade and agree to serve Fairtrade products at its meetings, a range of Fairtrade products should be available in shops and served at catering outlets, workplace and community organisations must support and use Fairtrade products wherever possible, media coverage and events should raise the profile of Fairtrade and a streering group should be formed to ensure the Fairtrade Town campaign continues to develop and gain support.

But one man who was part of a group that imported 2.5 tonnes of coffee from East Africa to encourage ethically sourced produce back in 1976 before the creation of Fairtrade, believes people in Hemel Hempstead are not aware that the endorsement is under threat.

Jon Danzig, of Shendish Edge, Apsley, said: “I would like to think, being a humanist, that it is not the case that people simply do not care.

“If that is the case I’m a little disappointed at the council for abandoning the project prematurely. Is this a case that the council is not too keen on it themselves or have they really been trying very hard to build up support for this initiative and get people on-board?

“I think people in Hemel Hempstead are caring people, they have obviously got their own local problems but I still think we have a heart for poorer people in other countries.”

Anyone wishing to be part of a steering group can call Tara Clark on 01442 867808.

Is Fairtrade worth fighting for or just a marketing gimmick? Let us know what you think, you can find our contact details on page 14