Dec 27 2012 by Rob Pattinson, Ormskirk Advertiser
FAIRTRADE will be backed “in principle” by West Lancs council – after a controversial vote.
Politicians were advised to shelve plans for a bid for Fairtrade town status in Ormskirk due to a lack of support from traders.
But calls to support the movement – which seeks to guarantee a better deal for developing world producers – in principle were passed despite opposition from the ruling Tories.
Conservative Cllr Martin Forshaw, portfolio holder for planning and development, had called on colleagues to side with the officer’s recommendations and “maintain the status quo for the time being”.
One Labour and three Tory councillors were not present in the chamber leaving the two parties equally represented.
But Burscough West Labour Cllr Cynthia Dereli’s proposed amendment was passed through in a vote 25-24, after Rufford Tory Cllr Jane Houlgrave abstained to a spontaneous round of applause from the Labour group.
After the meeting, Cllr Houlgrave said: “Although I stand shoulder to shoulder with my Conservative colleagues on most issues on this occasion I found it impossible to support them on personal and moral grounds and therefore abstained from the vote.”
The decision was welcomed by Susan Murphy, co-ordinator of Ormskirk Fairtrade Town Steering Committee, who had urged councillors to support the bid ahead of the meeting.
She said: “We’re delighted and hopefully this will be the beginning of a partnership.
“We’ve not had council backing before and hopefully this will help encourage people to be more active on the issue.”
Cllr Dereli said: “This gives a little support to the movement. It’s a great shame it wasn’t a unanimous vote, but now we have an opportunity to begin to interest more of the controlling group’s councillors in Fairtrade.”