Chiefs ‘ignored my Fairtrade town lifeline’

editorial image

A COUNCILLOR says his efforts to head up the Fairtrade movement in Hemel Hempstead have been ignored as council chiefs claim it risks being dropped due to lack of interest.

Dacorum Borough Council announced last November that the town could lose its Fairtrade status – won in 2008 – because no-one had volunteered to lead it.

Keith White, who represents Adeyfield for Labour, says he made four phone calls to the council following the alert but got no response.

He said: “I volunteered to the officer four times but I’ve just got her voicemail. I’ve heard nothing back.

“For the council to say no-one is interested and no-one has volunteered is untrue.

“I suspect it’s a case of they don’t have the resources. Officers have been doing it since 2008 and nothing has been done to keep it going.

“I think it’s very important. If we want a sustainable economy you need a sustainable global economy. An economy is not sustainable if the rich countries keep exploiting the poor countries.”

The council has announced it will not be celebrating Fairtrade Fortnight next month because of a lack of volunteers.

Spokesman Leida Smith said Mr White’s messages had not been picked up. “The officer was having problems with their phone,” she said. “It is wonderful that Councillor White wants to take Fairtrade forward for Hemel Hempstead. We are meeting with him to discuss it.

“However, for a Fairtrade town to be successful the steering group must be made up of a majority of community volunteers willing to work to gain and maintain Fairtrade Town status, with some support from the council.

“We have been trying to recruit community participants for over a year and no-one has come forward. After over three years of leadership and input from the council, it is apparent that there is no community desire to proceed with this project.”