Children’s author Philip Pullman opened a Fairtrade market in Witney and called for the town to gain Fairtrade status.

Witney Area Fairtrade Action Group, which organised the market, has campaigned for Witney to become a Fairtrade Town for years.

Last month, Witney Town Council refused to back a motion that would have paved the way for the town to gain the status, saying consumers should make their own mind up about purchases.

Council backing is needed for the status under foundation rules.

Mr Pullman said: “In one way, it’s obvious what I think [about the town council’s decision] because I support Fairtrade and believe every town should be a Fairtrade Town. But it’s a decision for the people of Witney, and if they don’t like it, they know what to do about it.”

The Fairtrade Foundation says the status sees firms and community groups “pledging to do what they can to support Fairtrade and promote the Fairtrade Mark”.

Councillor Chrissie Curry said: “We feel it’s a matter that should be readdressed, but it’s a decision to be made by the new incoming council, and not by this council.”

The whole town council is up for re-election in May.

She added: “We support the aims and objectives of Fairtrade, but we feel it’s a matter of personal choice what people spend their money on, and it’s not in the town council’s remit to support one organisation over another.”

WAFTAG said more than 1,500 people attended the market on Saturday, and about £4,000 was spent on Fairtrade products.

About 30 stalls featured everything from food and drink to jewellery, silk scarves, and fabrics.

Mr Pullman judged a children’s poetry competition, themed on Fairtrade, which was entered by hundreds of children from three West Oxfordshire primary schools.

The winner was presented by Mr Pullman with a signed copy of one of his books.

The market also contributed to Fairtrade’s national world record-breaking attempt to create the longest bunting.

Before the event, organisers had managed to produce 90 flags, and a further 70 were created on the day, including one by Mr Pullman.

WAFTAG co-ordinator, Wendy Maddison, said: “We were overwhelmed and thrilled by the response to the event.

“It was a huge success, and demonstrates that people want to support a system of trade which is fair and just.”