Traders Prepare for Own Currency

BBC - The new currency will be launched with 5,000 Lewes pounds.

Traders in an East Sussex town are gearing up to launch their own currency in an effort to encourage shoppers to support the local economy.

Campaigners in Lewes hope to have 30 shopkeepers signed up when they release 5,000 Lewes pounds on 9 September.

It is the idea of Transition Town Lewes, which campaigns for a more self-sufficient community, following a scheme launched in Devon last year.

People will be able to buy the currency at various locations in the town.

They will then be able to exchange them for goods and services at local shops and businesses.

'Wonderful stuff'

"It is a way of supporting the local economy by creating a bond between the shopkeepers and shoppers," said campaigner Oliver Dudok van Heel.

"It is a very real relationship if you go into a local store where people know each other than if you go into Tescos, where it is a much more impersonal way of doing things.

"There is lots of wonderful stuff being made in Sussex that really does not get the time of day because of the power of the supermarkets and the way pricing works.

"We are trying to give people an incentive to go into local shops – it doesn't mean they have to do all their shopping there, it just gives them reason to go and have a look."

A similar currency was launched in Totnes, Devon last summer.

The Lewes pound will have the same value as a pound sterling.

But during the two-week launch period, people will get a 10% discount and be able to buy 22 Lewes pounds for £20.

Mr van Heel said the system had been tried in several places around the world, most successfully in Berkshire, Massachusetts in the USA.

"There, they have issued almost a million Berkshares, so that a substantial amount of money has gone into the local economy.

"It has made production of local goods much more satisfying and really helped that area."