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Town poised for its own currency

4 June 07 16:35 GMT
by Jonathan Morris
BBC News South West

A south Devon town has taken a step towards having its own currency after a month-long experiment.

Three hundred Totnes pounds were printed in March for circulation only in local outlets.

Eighteen shops joined Transition Town Totnes (TTT), a new group campaigning for a more self-sufficient community.

The experiment, which has just finished, could be followed up by another print-run of 3,000 notes later this year.

TTT based the idea on a similar scheme in the Southern Berkshire region of Massachusetts, US.

There the alternative currency, Berkshares, can be swapped for dollars in banks.

In Totnes TTT gave away 300 notes at a public meeting in March.

Marjana Kos, of TTT, said: "It's keeping wealth here. It's keeping local trade alive and supporting local businesses."

Louise King, manager of the Riverford farm shop in Totnes, said: "We like our own products, so it just seems right to have our own currency."

What might seem like criminal activity is actually perfectly legal - the notes were copies of a pound note last in circulation in 1810.

Paul Hall, of Colourworks, which printed the notes, said: "We thought it was a little bit strange.

"Printers aren't usually asked to produce currency, but once it was explained that it was a reproduction of a Totnes pound as opposed to a Bank of England pound, we were happy to do that."

The pound note, a facsimile of the old pound note one side, has a list of participating outlets on the reverse side.

The note also shows how many times the note had been exchanged with a tick box.

TTT says the only objections have come from people who thought it was too big and it will be producing a smaller, more difficult to forge note if members agree to a further print run later this year.

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