Rothesay set to become the next Fair Trade town?

A MEETING will be held on Bute later this month to discuss ways in which Rothesay can become an official Fair Trade town.

Currently Dunoon, Oban and district and the island of Iona are the only areas in Argyll and Bute which have been given Fairtrade status, but it is hoped that this will soon change if the island’s community backs the Scottish Fair Trade Forum’s plans, to be unveiled in more detail at Rothesay Pavilion on Monday, June 18 at 7pm,

Councillor Isobel Strong, Provost of Argyll and Bute Council, told us: “I would like Rothesay to be able to achieve this, as other towns in Argyll and Bute have already done.

“I know that there are people in the community working with the churches, and also within the Co-op, spreading the word, and some ‘own brands’ are already Fair Trade, but I think more could be done.

“I hope to attend the public meeting on June 18, and would urge people to come along and find out how we can help some of the poorest people on the planet.“

Many of the products bought in British supermarkets or shops are grown or produced by people who are not paid properly for their work, and who as a result have to live in poverty. The Fair Trade movement was set up to ensure they are paid a decent price.

Worldwide, Fair Trade sales totaled $2.6 billion in 2006, according to the International Fair Trade Association (IFTA). The UK is one of the biggest global markets for Fair Trade goods - and it is hoped Rothesay will become a part of this.

The Fair Trade movement promises to pay a fair price to producers in developing countries - ‘fair’ meaning enough to pay a living wage, regardless of world prices for their product.

The movement also pledges not to use child labour, to provide safe working conditions, to protect the environment, to safeguard rights for women, to commit to long-term contracts which allow producers to plan for the future, and to pay a social premium which is often reinvested into sustainable community infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools and roads.

There are five main steps required in order to achieve Fair Trade status:

* The local council must pass a resolution supporting Fair Trade, and serve Fair Trade coffee and tea at its meetings and in offices and canteens.

* A range of Fair Trade products must be readily available in the area’s shops and served in local cafés and catering establishments.

“Fairtrade products must be used by a number of local workplaces, educational establishments, faith communities and other community organisations.

* Media coverage must be attracted and events organised to gain popular support for the campaign.

* A local Fair Trade steering group must meet regularly to ensure continued commitment to Fair Trade Town status, and the composition of the steering group should be representative of the community overall.