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Still a Fairtrade town - MP Huw Merriman, second right, presents the certificate to Jack Doherty, flanked by Bexhill Fairtrade Committee members Philippa Coughlan, left, and Roz Woodroffe (photo: Neil Woodroffe).

Still a Fairtrade town – MP Huw Merriman, second right, presents the certificate to Jack Doherty, flanked by Bexhill Fairtrade Committee members Philippa Coughlan, left, and Roz Woodroffe (photo: Neil Woodroffe).

Bexhill recertified as Fairtrade town

Bexhill has successfully retained its status as a Fairtrade Town, as more local enterprises make a commitment to using fairly traded products. A demanding action plan has been approved to keep the Fairtrade ball rolling. Nick Terdre reports.

You can’t become a Fairtrade Town and expect to rest on your laurels – the Fairtrade Foundation expects you to keep actively promoting fair trade as a means of helping disadvantaged producers in developing countries. Under the leadership of Bexhill Fairtrade Committee, the town first achieved Fairtrade status in 2007 and has now had it renewed for a further two-year period.

The new certificate was presented to Jack by the town’s newly elected MP, Huw Merriman, at an informal ceremony in the Coffee in Style coffee shop in Terminus Road. “It is now eight years since Bexhill first achieved Fairtrade status, which is a great achievement,” Mr Merriman said. “It shows that local residents and businesses really care about the working conditions of people in developing countries. They know that choosing Fairtrade helps to secure a better and more sustainable future for the suppliers and their children.”

Next a Fairtrade certificate for the Coffee in Style cafe, presented to manageress Diane, third left.

Next a Fairtrade certificate for the Coffee in Style cafe, presented to manageress Diane Le Lievre, third left (photo: Neil Woodroffe).

He also presented a Fairtrade certificate to the coffee shop’s manageress, Diane Le Lievre, in recognition of its commitment to using fairly traded products.

“This is a great credit to many aspects of life in Bexhill,” says committee chairman Jack Doherty. “More cafes are serving more fairly traded products. More schools and places of worship have been or are working towards achieving FairAware status for themselves.”

The support of the local council is essential to achieving Fairtrade town status, and this has been forthcoming since the early days from Rother District Council. In recognition Mr Doherty presented the mayor, Cllr Maurice Watson, and Dr Tony Leonard, the council’s executive director of business operations, with a new

And a certificate for Rother District Council, represented by mayor Maurice Wilson and executive director of business operations Dr Tony Leonard.

Also a certificate for Rother District Council, represented by mayor Maurice Watson, second right, and executive director of business operations Dr Tony Leonard (photo: Toby Field/RDC).

certificate. “As a council we play our part by purchasing Fairtrade tea and coffee and are also looking at our procurement methods to see how Rother can support Fairtrade,” Dr Leonard commented. The mayor said he was pleased to see the progress of Fairtrade products in the market place over the past 20 years and urged the population to make Fairtrade the normal choice in their weekly/daily basket.

Busy action plan

Meanwhile the committee has drawn up a busy action plan to keep spreading the Fairtrade message in the town. It includes encouraging more schools, faith groups and other social organisations to tackle the three-stage process, including the FairAware and FairActive stages, of winning Fairtrade status.

They will also target more cafes, restaurants, hotels and B&Bs to put Fairtrade products on their menus, and those which already have basic items such as tea, coffee and sugar to expand their range to include items such as rice, biscuits, bananas and other fruit.

The town’s many care and nursing homes are also in the committee’s sights, bearing in mind the many cuppas they serve every day. Ambleside Care Home is one of those already serving Fairtrade items.

“Among the many Fairtrade products we wish to advance is cotton,” Jack tells HOT. “The cotton industry has one of the worst records, with deaths and injuries due to unsafe factories, chemicals and practices, as well as unsustainable pricing for producers, which is responsible for one suicide every 32 minutes among cotton producers in India. Schools, faith groups, nursing homes, hospitals – anyone using uniforms, aprons and other clothing have a role here.”

Other aims include making all bananas sold in Bexhill fairly traded – the Coop and Sainsbury’s already sell only Fairtrade bananas – and having a sign declaring Bexhill a Fairtrade town on the approach roads.

The committee also hopes to recruit more help, from both those generally able to lend a hand and people with specific skills such as web management.

It already has many success stories on which to build, such as the sale of fairly traded rice from Malawi which it introduced in 2013. It was a means of helping farmers’ children to attend secondary school; the fees have to be paid directly by the parents in that country. So far four schools – Bexhill Academy, St Richard’s, St Mary Magdalene’s and St Peter and St Paul’s – together with four churches – St Mary Magdalene’s, Our Lady’s Sidley, St Martha’s and St Stephen’s – have sold almost one tonne of rice in all, Mr Doherty says. At £2.70 a kilo, the sale of 90 kilos pays for a child’s secondary schooling for a year.

The collaboration between Bexhill Fairtrade Committee and Bexhill College to produce the annual Fairtrade fashion show – another arena very relevant to fairly traded cotton – has also proved a resounding success.

You can contact Bexhill Fairtrade Committee through their website.

See also Nuts about fairtrade fashion

Posted 12:53 Thursday, Jun 18, 2015 In: Campaigns

Also in: Campaigns

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