Local council passes a resolution supporting Fairtrade, and agrees to serve Fairtrade products (for example, in meetings, offices and canteens).

Watford unites to achieve Goal 1

Getting everyone to agree on something is never easy – and when it comes to politics that can be doubly true.

But supporters in Watford have shown how a Fairtrade campaign can motivate people across the community to work together for a common cause – and get the local council on board at the same time.

The Fairtrade steering group in the town successfully involved members of different faith groups, schools and neighbouring towns in their bid to win Fairtrade recognition.

And crucially they also secured meaningful support from Watford Borough Council. In fact, two of their steering group members are Council representatives, one from Labour and one from the Conservatives.

In November 2003, Watford Borough Council passed a resolution stating that: ‘The Council aims to be recognised by the residents and business community of Watford Borough as a Council that actively supports and promotes the concept of Fairtrade, ensuring that producers from developing countries get a fair price for their goods and labour. The Council resolves to:

Promote awareness of Fairtrade issues by making publicity and educational information available to local people re the worldwide impact of unfair trade and the opportunities that Fairtrade provides to promote sustainable development. Investigate the Council’s purchasing policies re items that Fairtrade produces and encourage the purchase of Fairtrade items whenever possible. Work with the local Steering Committee to promote Fairtrade issues and practices amongst local businesses and commercial and other organisations.’

A few years later Watford Borough Council funded a Fairtrade Directory. When they opened two new leisure centres it was a requirement that Fairtrade products must be sold as a part of the tendering requirements.

The key for the Watford steering group was to make sure the council were an integral part of all their Fairtrade activities. The Council not only attends the events, it also hosts them, including in 2012 a World Fairtrade Day in Watford Museum.

Council events need not be serious – a councillor from Derbyshire was quizmaster during their Fairtrade Quiz Night to raise money to print next year’s brochure. But having its backing can give a huge boost in terms of giving a Fairtrade campaign a public profile, the use of facilities and even financial support.

The case of Watford shows that Goal 1 – getting your council to back the campaign – doesn’t have to be your campaign’s biggest challenge – in fact it can become one of your biggest strengths!