Jo leads local Fairtrade delegation to meet Minister


School pupils and members of East Dunbartonshire’s Fairtrade Steering Group were among the delegation that quizzed Minister Gareth Thomas

A group of East Dunbartonshire Fairtrade supporters got the chance to put their views direct to a Government Minister yesterday in a face-to-face meeting in Parliament.

The nine-strong contingent included pupils from Lenzie Academy, members of the East Dunbartonshire Fairtrade Steering Group and a fundraiser with Oxfam. They joined with Jo Swinson MP to press the Minister for International Development Gareth Thomas on the issues of UK trade policy, Government promises on aid and debt and promoting fair trade at home.

The meeting was organised by Jo after she held a debate on ‘Trade with Developing Countries’ in Parliament and invited Mr Thomas to hold talks with Fairtrade supporters from East Dunbartonshire.

Commenting on the meeting, Jo said:

“This face-to-face meeting was an excellent opportunity for the group to put their point across and put real pressure on the Minister. They came well prepared and asked some difficult and searching questions.

“There was a healthy turnout for the meeting and it was great to see pupils from Lenzie Academy present. A number of other schools who were not able to send pupils down sent letters and messages of support to be given to the Minister. Primary six pupils from Colquhoun Park Primary in Bearsden wrote and recorded a ‘Fairtrade Rap’, which was played at the meeting. For people to travel down to London to put their point across shows the strength of feeling involved.

“The Fairtrade movement in East Dunbartonshire is making good progress. The Steering Group that was formed in January last year is doing a successful job of overseeing the bid to gain Fairtrade status for East Dunbartonshire. I have aimed to carry on the good work of my predecessor in this area, and we can be well pleased that today’s meeting represents a big step forward.”

Angela Oakley, of the East Dunbartonshire Fairtrade Steering Group, commented:

“In East Dunbartonshire we have been successful in achieving a great deal in our Fairtrade campaign in a short time due to overwhelming support from all sections of the community.

“We wanted to take this opportunity to show the Minister the strength of support for our campaign and to ask for Government policy to reflect this strength of feeling.”

A spokesperson for East Dunbartonshire Council added:

“The Council is playing a lead role in the area’s campaign to be named as Scotland’s first ever Fairtrade Zone and it is encouraging that the pupils in our schools are lending their support.

“By taking their Fairtrade message to Westminster they are raising the profile of a very important issue at the highest possible level. These young people, who are committing their time and energy to this cause, are excellent ambassadors for East Dunbartonshire.”

To become a Fairtrade Town (or any other populated area), 5 goals must be met:

i) The local council must pass a resolution supporting Fairtrade, and serve Fairtrade coffee and tea at its meetings and in offices and canteens.

ii)A range of Fairtrade products must be readily available in the area’s shops and served in local cafés and catering establishments (targets are set in relation to population)

iii) Fairtrade products must be used by a number of local work places (estate agents, hairdressers etc) and community organisations (churches, schools etc)

iv) The council must attract popular support for the campaign.

v) A local Fairtrade steering group must be convened to ensure continued commitment to Fairtrade Town status.

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