Residents Gear Up for Local Currency

Crawley Observer - Residents in an historic East Sussex county town are gearing up for the
launch next week of its own currency. About 40 local traders in Lewes have agreed to accept the Lewes Pound as a complementary currency to pound Sterling.

Up to 10,000 one Lewes Pound notes have been designed and will be unveiled
at the launch next Tuesday at the town hall. Organizers 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.

The move is something of a step back into the past for Lewes, which had its
own currency from between 1789 and 1895. Complementary currencies have also
been introduced in other parts of the UK and across the world.

In Totnes in Devon, a complementary currency has been running for more than
a year. And in the US town of Berkshire, Massachusetts, some one million
Berkshares have gone into circulation since it started a couple of years
ago.

The pilot scheme in Lewes will run until August 30 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 that a lot of other towns have. It has traditionally been the
small shops that have given Lewes its unique appeal.

"It's important, particularly amid the difficult economic climate we all
find ourselves in, for people to shop locally. The Lewes Pound is something
which has gained support locally. Even Barclays Bank are going to make it
available, I understand."