Fairtrade status under threat

IPSWICH'S status as a Fairtrade Town may be under threat just days after celebrating its first birthday if vital support is not restored, it has been warned.

IPSWICH'S status as a Fairtrade Town may be under threat just days after celebrating its first birthday if vital support is not restored, it has been warned.

Ipswich Council helped launch the campaign to turn the town into an area committed to Fairtrade goods in 2005.

However since the town was awarded the status in February 2008, the day set aside for a council employee to spend time promoting Fairtrade has been withdrawn.

With the campaign now run by the Fairtrade steering group, Labour's Carole Jones believes this loss of support is detrimental.


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“The only way we can maintain our town's status is with officer time - it's essential,” said Ms Jones, who also chairs the steering group.

“It's a really massive organisational operation. It's taken us three years to get where we are and we needed the officer support to get in touch with all the local cafes, restaurants, and community groups across town.

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“Now we have the status we need not only to maintain our involvement but develop it.”

To restore the officer time would cost the council around �7,000.

Labour councillors put forward an amendment to restore the officer time at the meeting of full council, where the annual budget was agreed. But the Conservative-Liberal Democrat administration rejected the proposal.

John Carnall, the council's deputy leader, said: “The group should have applied for a grant and they didn't.

“If they had applied for a grant it would have been considered in the normal way, but the Labour group tried to attach it to the budget debate.

“Like a number of other voluntary organisations in the town we expect them to stand on their own two feet.”

Local businesses and groups selling Fairtrade goods support Ms Jones' concerns.

Jane Cornish, director of the Fairtrade Shop on Orwell Place, said: “We would like to see Ipswich continue the status and the council continue to support it.

“It makes a difference to get their support. Not only does it set an example but it shows a commitment to fair trade.”

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