Welcome for Fairtrade zone status

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THE ACHIEVEMENT of Fairtrade status for Angus has been welcomed by Montrose man Peter Stevens, who was the driving behind the town becoming the county’s first Fairtrade community.

At last week’s full Angus Council meeting, Angus Provost Helen Oswald announced the new designation and paid tribute to the efforts of groups across the area.

Currently there are around 150 businesses supporting the movement along with numerous schools across the county and about 30 churches.

Montrose became Angus’s first Fairtrade town in 2008 and the following year Mr Stevens began to encourage interest in the movement in Forfar, Brechin, Arbroath and Carnoustie, all of which have achieved the same designation while Kirriemuir and Monifieth are working towards it.

Mr Stevens, who started the Montrose campaign in 2007, this week said the county’s new status is “an ambition achieved” but he also pointed out that communities “can’t sit back” and the process is a progressive one to help maintain Fairtrade status.

He said: “I went out and spoke at all the town partnerships about it three years ago after we got feedback for renewal of our status in 2009, which asked us to go out and spread the word. I also spoked at the launches in each of the towns to encourage them to find their own way.

“Since then Angus Council has backed it and is giving time to co-ordinate it and we really need that council co-ordination for the zone. I feel this is the culmination of a three-year process and I’m happy that it has been achieved.”

By buying Fairtrade goods such as tea, coffee and chocolate, customers directly support the communities in which they are produced. An agreed premium is paid on top of the Fairtrade price for investment in social, environmental or economic development projects, which farmers’ organisations or plantation workers decide on democratically.

Mr Stevens added: “We’re trying to get Scotland to become the second Fairtrade nation and the Scottish Fairtrade Foundation is pushing for that pretty hard. Our achievement as a zone is one of the foundation stones in that and we’re very much part of that process.”