Bridgend Fairtrade Partnership Letter to Bridgend Council - Concern over Sustainable Development Policy Fulfilment

text of the letter written in january 2016 to darren mepham (chief executive bridgend county borough council), on behalf of the bridgend fairtrade partnership

Absence of the availability of Fairtrade products at Carnegie House

Dear Sir,
Whilst fully acknowledging the excellent arts profile Carnegie House provides for the borough, it is disappointing that Fairtrade products are unavailable at this venue. As Bridgend is a Fairtrade town the least that should be expected is that fairly traded refreshments be on offer at public events.

In the ‘Bridgend County Borough Council Sustainable Development Policy 2014’ it is stated that the Council will, ‘Support a fair deal for third world producers by encouraging the use of Fairtrade products, providing Fairtrade refreshments at meetings within the Authority and wherever possible supporting Fairtrade initiatives’.

(Wales, of course, boasts that it is the first Fairtrade nation. Indeed, the new National Assembly’s ‘Wellbeing and Future Generations Act’ will add further responsibilities on local authorities.)

It is a laudable aim to be supporting the vulnerable; morally we have a duty to fulfil what has been pledged. Assuming this is a genuine commitment, the providing of Fairtrade refreshments will apply to all gatherings in public buildings within the County.

In July 2010 Bridgend officially became a Fairtrade County. The presentation in August that year was from the First Minister, Carwyn Jones AM. This was a fantastic achievement and something we should all be very proud of. The Bridgend County Fairtrade Partnership, have successfully renewed our applications so far, with the Fairtrade Foundation to maintain the borough’s Fairtrade status. However, our new action plan needs to know that BCBC aims to help increase awareness and sales.

We should all be proud of our Fairtrade borough status and feel strongly that such a prestigious centre as Carnegie House should be at the forefront of promoting Fairtrade. It is essential that we maintain this status, and credibly

so. This should be just the start of further commitments and initiatives relating to Fairtrade.

The Bridgend Borough Fairtrade Partnership should like to remind you of the aims of Fairtrade. First and foremost to provide ‘decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers’. It is also ‘about the protection of workers’ rights and the environment, payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business or community projects’.

Bridgend as a County Borough which understands deprivation, should be fully committed to supporting the weak and vulnerable by any means possible. Several members of the local community have noticed this absence of products bearing the Fairtrade logo in various venues and have contacted us with their concerns. For instance we have also heard complaints regarding the lack of Fairtrade from those attending a life drawing class at Carnegie House.

The Partnership are concerned too, that apparent lack of BCBC’s Sustainable Development policy guidance at Carnegie House may also have not been conveyed to the AWEN Trust which has been established to run the council’s cultural facilities and services in the venues outlined below:

  • Library services

  • Awel-y-Mor, Coity and Bettws community centres

  • Community and youth arts development

  • Bryngarw House and Country Park

  • Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl

  • Maesteg Town Hall

  • Blaengarw Workmen’s Hall

  • The B-Leaf and Wood-B work-related projects for adults with disabilities.

    In the UK today, 80% of people questioned in a survey conducted by Fairtrade recognise the Fairtrade Mark. Thus there is a clear demand for these products and their presence might well increase the number of people visiting Carnegie House, and indeed the borough.

    We are sure that now this matter has been drawn to your attention you will be keen to rectify this oversight. The Partnership would of course be glad to help should this be required.
    We await your response regarding all the above venues.

    Yours sincerely,

    Rhys Felton and Carla Prinsloo,
    Margaret Minhinnick – Chairperson
    (on behalf of Bridgend Fairtrade Partnership)

cc. Cllr Mel Nott, Leader Bridgend Borough Council, Cllr R. Burns, Board Carnegie House, Richard Hughes, AWEN Trust