Mayor-Trowbridge-Chains-Robe

11 February 2024

Once again, there was only one formal engagement for me as Mayor last week. That was a press and community engagement to publicly unveil Trowbridge’s 2024 “Fairtrade Community” reaccreditation certificate.

Trowbridge has been a Fairtrade Town since 2009, and although that accreditation has changed in name (we’re now known as a Fairtrade Community rather than a Fairtrade Town), our desire to continue as a committed advocate for the global Fairtrade movement remains as strong as it’s ever been.

In fact, I firmly believe that reaffirming our town’s commitment to the aims and objectives of Fairtrade is more important today than it has been for many years. When so much of the world is seemingly descending into chaos and uncertainty, our ability and our desire to restate this town’s commitment to global ethical trading become more significant—maybe not on a global scale, but at least to ourselves and our collective conscience. After all, as with so much in life, the moment we go down the road of “Why bother? What difference can I make? I’m just one person, or in this case, one town, and we may as well abandon any pretence to holding any moral or principled view on anything.

But last Tuesday was about Fairtrade, and I do believe that we have a moral duty to nurture the fair treatment of small-scale farmers, growers, and artisans in what we sometimes patronisingly call the “developing world.” People whose basic right to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work can so easily be lost in the headlong rush towards corporate profits for multi-national conglomerates

By putting control back into the hands of the individual producers, by making those producers partners in the business of selling their produce, and by reinvesting profits from those sales back into the communities where those producers live and work, we can help ensure an economically and environmentally sustainable future for those individuals, communities, and their consumers and customers.

Fairtrade is not “aid.” It is a partnership based on choice. The choice offered to a producer is to become a member of the Fairtrade family and to embrace the ethical and environmental standards that the Fairtrade movement represents. The choice offered whole communities the opportunity to benefit from Fairtrade-funded investment in infrastructure and education. The choice offered end-consumers the opportunity to select a product—from chocolate to ceramics, cosmetics to cashew nuts—that they know has been sourced and marketed in an environmentally and ethically responsible way. Fairtrade is not aid; it is a cooperative endeavour built on ethical choices. It is a movement where everyone gains something, from a living wage for the producer to a quality, ethically sourced product for the consumer.

Nor does our town’s Fairtrade status signify a commitment made on behalf of our residents that they will always seek to support Fairtrade and buy only Fairtrade products. It is a commitment that, as a town, we shall promote the benefits of Fairtrade to consumers within the town and work with local retailers to try and persuade them to offer Fairtrade products, not necessarily exclusively, but at least as an alternative alongside other products.

What you, as a shopper in our town, choose to buy with your hard-earned money is, after all, up to you. Nobody will tell you what you should spend your money on, but we hope that you will see the benefits of fair and ethical global trade, and when offered a Fairtrade alternative at a competitive price, maybe you’ll choose to support the global Fairtrade movement.

That’s why, on Tuesday last week, I was happy and proud to represent our town and our community when our Fairtrade reaccreditation was confirmed.

If you’d like to find out more about the global Fairtrade movement, get involved in the local Fairtrade group in our town (which will always welcome new members), or maybe even join our town group’s governing committee, please write to me at stephen.cooper@trowbridge.gov.uk and I’ll put you in touch.

***

In last week’s blog, I mentioned the upcoming civic dinner in aid of my two chosen charities for this year, Stepping Stones and Trowbridge Future. If you don’t know, it’s on Saturday March 23rd and tickets are on public sale at Trowbridge Town Council on St. Stephens Place.

Last week, I told you about the exciting after-dinner entertainment that we’ve got planned for the evening. Live music in the Ushers Suite, courtesy of an internationally recognised and very talented musician and his “ensemble.”.

So this week I’m going to tease you with a hint about what we have planned for our guests pre-dinner. We want to celebrate the youth of Trowbridge, so we’ve asked a very accomplished young chap who will wow you as you gather in the foyer with his repertoire of illusion, sleight of hand, and yes, maybe even a touch of pure magic. We’ve also arranged for a wonderful local primary school choir to entertain you as you take your seats in the Lansdown Hall before dinner is served.

All in all, it promises to be a really magical evening, and it’s all in the cause of helping local charities with their work in our local community.

***

On a more “forward-looking” note. My Mayoral Diary is starting to fill up now (after what has seemed like a very slow start to the year). There have been invitations for the Mayor to come in recently for all sorts of events, so I’m likely to be out and about quite a bit in the coming months.

I do hope I’ll see you and have a chance to talk to a lot of you all there!

***

That’s it for now, so until next time… keep safe, and please, be kind to each other.

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