BBC Home > BBC News > England

Lewes launches its own currency

9 September 08 08:35 GMT

An East Sussex town is introducing its own currency in an effort to encourage shoppers to support the local economy.

The Lewes Pound works like a voucher, with one Lewes pound note worth the same as a pound sterling. Up to 10,000 notes have been printed.

The currency will be accepted in local participating stores and can be bought in four outlets in the town.

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

The town had its own currency between 1789 and 1895.

'Unique appeal'

The current scheme will run until next August, when a review will be held to determine whether it should continue.

Lewes Mayor Michael Chartier, who officially launching 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.

"And it has traditionally been the small shops that have given Lewes its unique appeal."

The Lewes Pound was drawn up by Transition Town Lewes (TTL), which is made up of local residents whose aim is to campaign for a more self-sufficient community.

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

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

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

Related BBC sites