Autumn unwrapping for Fairtrade centre

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HOPES of opening an international Fairtrade centre in Garstang to coincide with this month’s Garstang Arts Festival have been dashed.

Campaigner Bruce Crowther and his fellow Fairtraders were delighted last month to obtain Wyre Council’s backing for the lease on the former Discovery Centre building, and had said a late August opening – linked to the arts festival – was a possibility.

But delays caused by the granting of the lease, the small print of which is still being negotiated, mean it could be September or even October by the time the Fairtrade centre, museum and cafe are open.

The cafe section of the plans have proved controversial, with opposition from some business and cafe owners in the town and from two town councillors.

Despite the opposition, the planning application has been approved and, after delays, there is agreement in principle on the granting of the lease.

Mr Crowther said he was continuing to raise funds for the project, which has been jokingly dubbed The Chocolate Factory by some critics in the town, after it was revealed one activity will be workshops on chocolate making from cocoa beans.

Fairtrade pioneer Mr Crowther, who works part-time as a veterinary surgeon, said: “I am up to my eyes at present trying to earn what money I can for the Fairtrade in Garstang (FIG) Tree centre by working at various vets. Unfortunately it looks like we have missed yet another target opening date, and we are now looking towards opening mid-September, or possibly early October.

“We are still doing all we can to ensure the FIG Tree opens in Garstang and cannot possibly do more.”

The FIG centre has attracted funding from supporters around the world.

As well as a cafe, much of the area within the FIG centre will be given over to displays of the work of Fairtrade, including Garstang’s vital contribution to the movement.

There will be no formal opening ceremony when it does open, but the author Joanne Harris, author of ‘Chocolat’, a leading supporter of the centre, has agreed to pay a visit once the building is open.