WITNEY is celebrating becoming the world’s 1,000th Fairtrade Town this weekend, after years of campaigning.
The move will see the town’s businesses and community groups “pledging to do what they can to support Fairtrade and promote the Fairtrade Mark".
The achievement had a special resonance with the Witney Area Fairtrade Action Group, which has campaigned for the last three years.
Co-ordinator Wendy Maddison said: “We are delighted, it’s an amazing feeling and we are excited about what’s to come.
“And to become the 1,000th international town is like the icing on the cake. It’s a great honour and a great challenge for us.”
To gain Fairtrade status, a town must get the support of local organisations and press, form an action group, get the support of the council and persuade businesses to stock Fairtrade products.
Ms Maddison said: “It’s been hard work which has taken nearly four years.
“It’s definitely been a challenge and we have had many obstacles to overcome. Though because of those obstacles, we have reached out to more people than we would normally have done, so in a way, it’s been beneficial.”
She added: “We look forward to working with the council and developing this campaign.”
In February, Witney Town Council had refused to back a motion put forward by newly-elected Labour councillor Duncan Enright.
Last night, he said: “This is terrific news, it’s wonderful.
“Some of the people had been working on this for years.”
He added: “Two hundreds years ago, there were people who tried to abolish slavery, 100 years ago the trade unions were trying to get better rights for their workers and the same sort of campaign is taking hold now.”
Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron said: “I am a big supporter of the Fairtrade Foundation.
“It is through trade we can help people to pull themselves out of poverty and ensure farmers and other producers get a fair price for their produce.
“I am delighted that Witney has gained Fairtrade status and very proud that it’s the 1,000th Fairtrade Town.”
In March, more than 1,500 people attended a Fairtrade Market in the town, opened by children’s author Philip Pullman.
He said: “I’m delighted to see that the Fairtrade Towns movement has grown so strongly.
“The Fairtrade movement is a clever and ingenious way of taking some of the inequality out of producing and buying food and other goods.”