Page last updated at 11:59 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Borders town of Hawick is to launch its own 'pound'

Hawick High Street (Undiscovered Scotland)
Traders in Hawick hope the local pound would stimulate local business

Hawick wants to become the first town in Scotland to launch its own currency in an attempt to boost the local economy.

A pilot scheme for the "Hawick Pound" is being launched this month to try to encourage more people to shop locally.

There has been concern from traders because of the competition they face from larger retailers outside the town.

But the idea is that the local currency could only be spent in Hawick, so money would stay in the community.

The organisers said they hoped the scheme would help local shops and businesses to survive the recession.

We sometimes struggle to find fruit and vegetables on our high street and purchase local milk, and if we can stimulate that localness then the community is stronger
Andy Maybury
Hawick currency campaigner

Notes would be printed and sold to members of the public who could use them in shops which have signed up to the project.

Danielle Grunberg, who is involved in the scheme, said: "What we would like to see is a strong local community that's able to support itself.

"We're not out of the recession and this is something that will support the local economy and hopefully it will help the shopkeepers.

"It has done in the other places where it's working down in England."

Fight back

Another of the organisers, Andy Maybury, said it was attempt to reverse the trend of decline in local trade.

He said: "We've lost the resilience in our communities to supply the goods and services we need.

"We sometimes struggle to find fruit and vegetables on our high street and purchase local milk, and if we can stimulate that localness then the community is stronger, we're more robust.

"As fuel prices in the world increase we're going to be less affected by the surcharges that are going to come on imported goods."

The Findhorn community in Moray already operates it own currency, called the "eko".

Jonathan Dawson, from Findhorn, said it had been a success because money stayed within the community, rather than disappearing out of the local system, as it does when people shop elsewhere.

He insisted there was an appetite for local pounds.

He said: "Provided people believe they can spend them easily they're actually quite keen to get them because they look beautiful and they also celebrate the local community.

"Local communities are having the life sucked out of them by large chains so this is an important tool in helping local traders fight back."

If the Hawick scheme goes ahead it would be the first town in Scotland to run a community currency.

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