Friday, September 12, 2008

Lewes Pound Launches

The Argus
September 12, 2008

Shoppers can ditch sterling from today and use their own currency.

More than 70 traders in Lewes have agreed to accept the Lewes Pound as a complementary currency to pound sterling.

Up to 10,000 Lewes Pound notes have been designed and were unveiled at the launch at Lewes Town Hall last night.

Organisers say the initiative would help increase a sense of pride in the community, help cut CO2 emissions and boost economic resilience amid the global economic downturn.

Oliver Dudok van Heel, of the Lewes Pound Group, said: “There will always be a need for a national currency, but it’s a question of promoting what can be done locally.”

The move is a step back to the past for Lewes, which had its own currency between 1789 and 1895.

Complementary currencies have also been introduced in other parts of Britain and across the world.

The pilot scheme in Lewes will run until August next year, when a review will take place to determine whether it will continue into its next phase.

Lewes Mayor Michael Chartier, who will officially launch the local pound, said: “The idea behind it is to encourage as many local people as possible to shop locally.

“Lewes has a tradition of small shops and hasn’t got a large number of major chain stores like a lot of other towns have. It has traditionally been the small shops that have given Lewes its unique appeal.”

The Lewes Pound, which was drawn up by Transition Town Lewes (TTL), will be worth a pound sterling and will only be redeemed at locally participating stores.

TTL is made up of residents whose aim is to build resilience to the challenges of rising energy prices and climate change.

It says one of its key initiatives is to localise the economy and it sees the launch of the Lewes Pound as an important component in promoting trade for local traders and local goods.

The notes will be printed in Totnes, Devon, which runs a similar scheme.

Each note has its own serial number, watermark and heat-sensitive fibres to ward against forgeries.

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