Fairtrade town aim for Stonehaven

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Following a public meeting held in November, the Stonehaven Fairtrade Steering Group has been set up. The Group is aiming to see if Stonehaven can become a Fairtrade Town. The Steering Group has representatives on it from a wide cross-section of the community, including schools, churches, the business community, Stonehaven and District Community Council, Stonehaven Town Partnership and local councillors.

The Steering Group is planning events during Fairtrade Fortnight, which will be from February 27 to March 11.

During this Fortnight Masauko Khembo, a Fairtrade sugar cane producer from Malawi will be visiting the North East. He will be visiting Stonehaven on Tuesday March 6. There will be a public event in the evening when Mr Khembo will talk about how Fairtrade has improved the lives of producers in Malawi. There will be a range of Fairtrade products on sale and Fairtrade refreshments will be served. It is hoped that there will be an event for schoolchildren and students during the day.

To achieve Fairtrade town status, five goals have to be met. The first is that the Local Council has to pass a resolution supporting Fairtrade and agrees to serve Fairtrade products at its meetings and offices.

The Council’s Sustainability Sub-committee has already, in 2009, passed a resolution in support of Fairtrade. Once progress has been made in meeting the other goals, the Steering Group intends to ask the Council to put a proposal to the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee asking it to support the move for Stonehaven to become a Fairtrade Town. Support will also be sought from Stonehaven and District Community Council, and Stonehaven Town Partnership.

The second goal is that a range of Fairtrade products have to be readily available in the town’s shops and served in local cafés and catering establishments. The Steering Group will be carrying out a survey to find out exactly what the situation is, but it is already clear that quite a few establishments already deal with Fairtrade products.

Fairtrade products need to be used by an appropriate number of local work places, schools, churches and other community groups in order to satisfy the third goal. There are already Fairtrade Schools and Fairtrade Churches in Stonehaven so this goal should not be difficult to meet. Clare Clouston, a member of the Steering Group, already runs a Fairtrade Stall at South Church.

The fourth and fifth goals are about gaining publicity and organising events. The Steering Group intend to have further events following on after Fairtrade Fortnight.

Stonehaven Councillor, Peter Bellarby, has taken the initiative in organising the public meeting and setting up the Fairtrade Steering Group. Mr Bellarby said that he had been approached by the Scottish Fairtrade Forum, when he was Chair of Stonehaven Town Partnership, to see if something could be done about Stonehaven becoming a Fairtrade Town.

Mr Bellarby said: “I was pleased to respond myself to this because I strongly believe that we need to be fair with producers in developing countries. It’s not just about giving producers a fair price, it is also about stability of the price so that they can properly plan for the future, knowing what return they will get. If Stonehaven becomes a Fairtrade Town it will be a way saying that Stonehaven cares about other people. Personally I have made a New Year resolution to buy a certain amount of Fairtrade products each month. Fairtrade Town status is not about forcing people to use Fairtrade products - it’s about giving folk the opportunity to do so if they wish.”

Michael McCarthy Operations Manager for the Co-operative Group said “We have four Co-operative stores in Stonehaven and are fully committed to supporting Fair trade products; in fact almost all our product ranges support fair trade in some form and our customers benefit from having this choice”.