Fairtrade Fortnight plea for shoppers to back Mirfield

FAIR ENOUGH: James Newell, Hayley Wilby and Joanne Taylor with some of the Fairtrade products on sale in the Co-op Mirfield. (d22021224)
FAIR ENOUGH: James Newell, Hayley Wilby and Joanne Taylor with some of the Fairtrade products on sale in the Co-op Mirfield. (d22021224)
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THE people of Mirfield are being urged to get behind the town’s cherished Fairtrade status.

So far, response to Fairtrade Fortnight, which starts on Monday, has been disappointing, even though 2012 is the year for commitment renewal. And both traders and shoppers are warned that the status is at risk unless more support comes through.

Chairman of Mirfield Fairtrade steering group Stephen Butler said: “It would be awful if we were to lose our status, but that’s what could happen unless more people get on board.

“We were the first in Kirklees to become a Fairtrade town and we are so proud of that. But we need to make a higher level of commitment and it is vital people help us do that.”

He said catering businesses in particular needed to show support. The steering group is looking for a flagship cafe to encourge this and Mr Butler wants to hear from any caterering concern keen to fill that role.

Few specific events have been lined up for the fortnight, but the Co-op is leading the way. The Huddersfield Road store will be selling Fairtrade goods with a 20 per cent discount and making donations to local good causes.

Duty manager James Newell said: “It is something we always strive to support.”

Upper Hopton Community Association, the Town Council, churches and various community groups back the initiative. St Andrew’s Methodist Church is hosting a ‘big brew’ coffee morning on March 9.

Mr Butler said: “What the Co-op and others do is brilliant. We simply need more traders on board and for shoppers to make a point of asking for Fairtrade goods.

“What would it look like if we lose Fairtrade status? It would hardly encourage people into the town.”

Business leader Martin Ibberson said an artisan market was being planned for April which would have a Fairtrade link.

He said: “I hope the town gets into the spirit of this fortnight. Some traders are a bit negative.”

Coun Martyn Bolt (Con) said: “Fairtrade needs more support from traders and the town council. This is the year we have to renew our status and we need people to reaffirm. We have done some excellent work and the status is a matter of great pride to us. It is in all our interests to maintain this link and enhance it wherever possible.”

l Cafes wanting to become a Fairtrade flagship can contact Mr Butler at srbutler@ntlworld.com