Gosport, a Fairtrade Community. Presentation of renewal Certificate to Gosport Borough Council – October 2023.

GFA Chair, Mark Smith, presented the new Certificate to the Mayor, Martin Pepper, at the Council Meeting on 12 October, with the following words:

“Mr. Mayor, councillors, honorary aldermen, members of the public – thank you for the opportunity to formally present this Fairtrade certificate to your full council meeting.

Gosport has been a Fairtrade borough since 2008 and this renewal certificate confirms the town’s continued commitment to the principles and values of Fairtrade.

What have we done to achieve this renewal?

Most of the work is done by Gosport Fairtrade Action (GFA), a group of volunteers coordinated by Sarah Hirom. We’ve been very grateful for the active support of Councillors Cully and Westerby. You can find full details of our activities on our website and Facebook page.

I’d like to summarise what we’ve done in recent years to achieve recognition from the Fairtrade Foundation, the organisation responsible for the Fairtrade mark.

We regularly organise events, activities and displays in Gosport, focusing on periods like Fairtrade Fortnight and Great Big Green Week to promote Fairtrade. These have been in schools, libraries, supermarkets, business centres and churches.

We build links with a range of other local groups, such as Friends of the Earth, the WIs, Repair Café and Greening Leesland. In some cases there are overlapping concerns, such as combatting climate change. We’ve worked with Alverstoke Junior School on its successful journey to become a Fairtrade school.

Gosport Council is, of course, a key partner in what we do. Successive Mayors have hosted a Fairtrade tea-party in this chamber, an event which demonstrates your support and enables us to involve other organisations and update you on what is happening in the Fairtrade world.

Sarah and I recently met with Stephanie Lucking and Julie Petty about how council procurement might contribute to our Fairtrade status. This is how Stephanie summed up the council’s position:

The Council must show best value within all of its procurement activity. Our Procurement Strategy confirms the Council’s commitment to the local economy and ensuring social value within our procurement activities. The Council is pleased to support Fairtrade products by sourcing Fairtrade refreshments and will continue to explore further products that can be included within our supply chain’.

I’m sure you all understand ‘best value’ but I’d like to emphasise ‘ensuring social value’ and what that could mean in terms of sourcing a Fairtrade product which may not be the cheapest. With Fairtrade tea, coffee and sugar, it’s straightforward because there’s no difference in price or quality. But what about council workers uniforms and work clothes? Lidl provides Fairtrade uniforms for its staff, perhaps this council could.

What else could Gosport council do? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Next time the town’s boundary signs welcoming visitors are changed, include the statement Gosport, a Fairtrade town/borough’ with the Fairtrade logo. Many Fairtrade towns already do this. Let’s show that we’re proud to be a Fairtrade Town.
  2. Have a clear Fairtrade statement on the council website, with links to GFA’s website and Facebook page.
  3. As a council, consider signing the Fairtrade Foundation’s Community Declaration of Solidarity as other councils have done. The declaration focuses on climate change and the impact it is already having on Fairtrade farmers and producers.

As one cocoa farmer from Ivory Coast said: ‘We, the farmers, have to deal with its consequences every day’.

For cocoa and coffee farmers that means more diseases affecting crops, lower yields, constantly worrying about whether they will have money to feed, clothe and educate their children.

For us, in this instance, climate change will mean much less, and much more expensive, coffee, cocoa and chocolate (up to 50% less by 2050). Please, as a council, consider signing it.

  • Finally, as individuals, we all have networks – friends and family, at work, via businesses and associations. They could all be using Fairtrade tea, coffee and sugar and understand the benefits farmers in some of the world’s poorest countries receive:  guaranteed fair prices, a community premium, training to increase resilience and productivity.

Gosport Fairtrade Action is primarily focused on Action and we’d like to work with councillors from all parties on promoting Fairtrade and being part of the national effort to fight climate change.

It just remains for me to present the certificate to the Mayor. I hope it will be proudly displayed in the Town Hall reception.”