Big boost for business as Tonbridge is awarded Fairtrade accolade

Big boost for business as Tonbridge is awarded Fairtrade accolade
TOP MARKS: Staff at M&S with the campaign’s backers: (l-r) Heather Cooper, Frixos Tombolis, Jane Heydecker of the steering group, Yvonne Goddard, Tonbridge Town Team’s Howard Porter, Jack Brennan, council Leader Nicolas Heslop and Holly Morris PHOTO:

To secure the prized accolade, many retailers pledged to sell more than four Fairtrade products while cafes and restaurants began serving its tea and coffee.

The campaign also secured support from faith groups, schools and volunteers, as well as local businesses, which began promoting the Fairtrade message in their working practices.

Fairtrade helps small-scale farmers, mostly in Third World countries, to earn decent incomes and secure long-term contracts with companies. They also earn the Fairtrade Premium, which they invest in business, social and environmental projects in their communities.

A steering group, chaired by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council’s Frixos Tombolis, the representative of Higham ward, was formed in the spring to coordinate the campaign and raise support.

Cllr Tombolis said: “People have been working incredibly hard to make all this happen and we are delighted we have now been granted Fairtrade Town status. I would like to extend our thanks to all those who have supported our efforts.”

The council passed a resolution in February to formalise its commitment to the Fairtrade Town initiative. Nicolas Heslop, the council Leader, said: “I am delighted to hear Tonbridge has now been granted Fairtrade Town status.

‘Fairtrade is a part of making Tonbridge a great place to work, shop and socialise’

“This is timely as we have just launched our draft Economic Regeneration Strategy consultation which we hope people will participate in and recognise that Fairtrade, along with other initiatives, is a part of making Tonbridge a great place to work, shop and socialise.”

The chair of the Tonbridge Town Team, Howard Porter, explained how the move can help the High Street. “We want to promote Tonbridge as a desirable shopping destination and use all the tools available to us to achieve this,” he said.

“Fairtrade Towns have an established track record of promoting a positive image.

“It also shows that we care about what we buy and retailers care about what they sell.”

He stressed the inclusivity of the status, which is backed by the big chains, smaller shops and caterers, corporations and community groups.

“Any business can take part, no matter how large or small,” he said. “Also schools, faith groups and others can achieve Fairtrade status.

“We want to encourage them to do so and join the Fairtrade family so that we can all be assured the products we buy and use have been sourced responsibly and that producers get a fair deal.

“We know from the success of our Farmers’ Market that local people really care about sustainability. Fairtrade is a part of the same spirit.”

Mr Porter added: “This has been a long process but the work really starts now.

“I would like to pay special tribute to our talented officers who know how to get things done and put in an enormous effort to achieve this.”

Gareth Razzle, Store Manager of Marks and Spencer Food Hall on Cannon Lane, said: “We’re delighted to hear the fantastic news that Tonbridge has been awarded Fairtrade Town status.

“It’s recognition that will be welcomed by so many in our local community.

“M&S is an avid supporter of Fairtrade products and was the first retailer in the UK to convert all of its tea and coffee to Fairtrade.”

Adam Gardner, Communities Campaigns Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “We are delighted to welcome Tonbridge to the Fairtrade movement, which now boasts more than 1,900 communities worldwide, taking practical steps to making a fairer world trade system a reality.

“Today, more than 1.6million farmers and workers across 74 developing countries benefit, but there is still a long way to go.”

Who’s doing what

Retailers offering four or more products: Marks and Spencer, Cannon Lane; Waitrose, Sovereign Way; The Co-operative, Martin Hardie Way and York Parade; Sainsbury’s, Angel Centre and Shipbourne Road; Lidl, Quarry Hill Road; Aldi, Cannon Lane; Hilden BP Garage, Tonbridge Road; Greggs, High Street

Caterers offering two or more products: Starbucks, High Street; Basil, High Street; The Bakehouse at 124, High Street; Beyond the Grounds, River Walk


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