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Towns banking their own currency

2 April 08 16:00 GMT

A number of west Wales towns are looking to launch their own currency in a bid to boost local businesses.

The idea has come from the Transition Towns movement, which aims to make towns self-sustaining, to encourage people to spend their money locally.

Backers are hoping to start in the scheme in Llandeilo, Llandovery and Lampeter.

The currency could only be used in participating businesses which would continue to use sterling as well.

Llandeilo became Wales's first transition town last year although others have since joined.

Local currency schemes are already running in other communities including Totnes in Devon and in America with Lampeter the first planned in Wales.

Rhiannon Rowley of Transition Towns Llandeilo said: "There's a serious side to something that may look quirky.

"What we are seeking to do is relocalise and a local currency is an extremely good way of doing it."

She said the plans were very much in their early stages but they hoped to launch before the end of the year.

A set amount of local currency would be printed - which would have a value to linked to sterling.

Businesses would be encouraged to sign up to accept it and display window stickers where it could be spent.

The scheme in Totnes in Devon was expanded last year following what organisers say was a successful pilot.

"The idea is a sound one and it's been working well in other communities so there is no reason why it won't in these towns in Wales," added Ms Rowley.

The transition towns movement was set-up to make communities self-sustaining in response to climate change and rising oil prices.

They focus on sustainability through renewable energy, allotments, farming and local businesses.

"We are a group of like minded communities across Wales and across the rest of the UK," added Ms Rowley.

"It's developing differently in different areas - it's a real grass roots movement."

Joy Daniel, an assistant at a Llandeilo delicatessen, said: "It sounds a bit complicated but OK in principle.

'Old fashioned'

"It would need a lot of work in the consultation - we'd want to know how it's worked elsewhere and what the feedback is from other people.

"All traders will have to be involved in the consultation."

Helen Humprhys, clothes shop owner and joint secretary of Llandeilo chamber of trade said it would rely on all shops and businesses taking part but it had appeal.

"Shopping locally is quite fashionable thing to do," she said.

"Doing something that's taking us back to our roots, being more organic and helping each other out is old fashioned and a lovely way of living."

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