Posts Tagged ‘Totnes Pound’

Bristol businesses queuing up to join local currency scheme

August 17, 2012

As Britain loses faith in its banks and feels shockwaves from the euro crisis, one city is trying to keep local wealth in local pockets with the launch of its own currency.

Bristol

Bristol

The Bristol pound – usable only with member businesses in the city in southwest England – is to launch in September, and organisers are deluged with local firms wanting to sign up.

“The perception of banking and money is that it’s a very ruthless system: people are out for what they can get,” co-founder Ciaran Mundy told AFP.

“This is about saying yes to something new. It’s tapping into a different set of values about money.”

The scheme has “captured people’s imaginations”, he added, in a recession-hit year when British banks have been beset by scandals and ministers talked openly of a possible euro collapse.

Hundreds of businesses have joined, from the acclaimed Arnolfini arts centre to the Chandos deli chain, and the launch had to be postponed from May to September 19 because of the level of interest.

Security professional Richard Wright signed up his company Wright Guard as soon as he heard about the Bristol pound, hoping it would help him fight back against encroaching security giants.

“I’m Bristol born and bred, and I always want to support local businesses,” he told AFP. “I’ll want to keep the Bristol pound flowing.”

The notes feature symbols of local pride, from 19th century religious writer Hannah More to the Concorde aircraft, partly developed in Bristol, and images of the St Paul’s Carnival Caribbean street festival.

Evoking a long history of dissent, one side of the £5 note shows a tiger writing on a wall in graffiti: “O Liberty!”

Other British towns have launched local currencies, but Bristol, home to half a million people, is the first big city, and its scheme is ambitious.

Businesses can pay local taxes in Bristol pounds and the council has offered its 17,000 staff the option of receiving part of their pay in the currency.

Mundy’s team – funded initially by grants – have designed an electronic system for payments by text message, plus what they say are forgery-proof notes.

Stores selling products from cider to skate shoes said they were considering joining the scheme, which Mundy believes will have a tangible economic effect.

“Eighty percent of the money leaves the area if it is spent with a multinational – but 80pc stays if it is spent at a local trader,” he said.

Such localism might seem strange in a city that grew to prosperity as an international port and is now a centre for aircraft manufacture.

But Bristol is also a left-wing haven with an activist tradition. The People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, an urban renewal group, made headlines last year with a campaign that became a riot in protest at the opening of a Tesco supermarket.

They have greeted the Bristol pound warmly.

“We need to run things from the bottom up and from the grassroots, so that people have control over how things happen where they live,” said spokesman Chris Chalkley.

But Louisa Jones and Joh Rindom, co-owners of Stokes Croft vintage clothing store Shop Dutty, thought the scheme would just add to their administrative burden.

“We’re sceptical that having a micro economy within a macro economy is a bit backward,” Rindom said.

Ben Yearsley, investment manager at Bristol-based financial services firm Hargreaves Lansdown, also won’t be rushing to convert his sterling.

“It’s just a big gift voucher scheme… I’m sceptical that it’s going to make any difference,” he told AFP.

“Local businesses need to compete on quality and service.”

The Bristol pound will not be legal tender and must be exchanged through the Bristol Credit Union, with a 3pc charge for conversion back to sterling.

This and charges on electronic transactions will pay its running costs.

Despite the naysayers, Mundy hopes hundreds of thousands of Bristol pounds will be traded in its first year, increasing to “double figures of millions” by the third.

His model is the Chiemgauer, a German complementary currency of which millions of euros’ worth is traded yearly.

Online database complementarycurrency.org lists more than 225 such minority currencies worldwide, of which 102 are in Europe.

They have won a high-profile advocate in Bernard Lietaer, a Belgian economist who helped design and implement the convergence mechanism for the euro.

“We will never have a stable, sustainable monetary system with a single monopoly of a single type of currency, whoever manages it,” he said in a lecture in Brussels.

“Everybody can do something at their own scale… sustainability requires diversity,” he added.

Mundy said that the ultimate test of his system would be the market.

“If people freely decide to market and trade with each other [in the currency], they should be able to do it,” he said.

“If we’re not doing a good job they won’t use the system. Consumers will decide.”

Article published in The Telegraph.

This is quite an ambitious scheme. Up until now local currencies have been restricted to small towns like Totnes, with the Totnes Pound.

About a year I was in Lincoln and suggested to local traders in the uphill area of The Strait, Steep Hill and Bailgate that they adopt the Bailgate Pound. My suggestion got a lot of support from the traders who could see it was an excellent idea, it even got picked up by the Lincolnshire Echo and was the front page story for New Year’s Day.

Unfortunately the Echo tried to talk to me but I missed their call. Instead they talked to a body supposedly representing the traders who failed to understand what a local currency is and thought it was some sort of discount vouncher or loyalty scheme, and as a result, the Bailgate Pound never got launched, much to the disadvantage of all the local traders who would have benefited.

I like the fact the local council are supporting the scheme, paying wages in Bristol Pounds and allowing payment of local taxes in Bristol Pounds.

I suggested this to a local council, along with wage cuts to overpaid bloated council workers. My ideas were never taken up, much to the loss of the local economy, which has since gone into free fall, with their town centres like ghost towns.

They did not take up my idea of a local farmers market either.

Bailgate Pound

December 28, 2010

“The essence of the contemporary monetary system is creation of money, out of nothing, by private banks often foolish lending.” — Martin Wolf

The day before Christmas Eve it was a freezing cold day in Lincoln, the County town of Lincolnshire. It must have been cold as the River Witham was frozen, something I had never seen before. OK covered in ice. I have seen the Brayford solid with ice, but never ice on the river.

I was cold, chilled to the bone. I decided to walk up The Strait and Steep Hill to Lincoln Cathedral for no other reason than to keep warm. Though having said that it is a worthwhile walk, away from the ghastly Clone Town of the city centre to interesting shops and an attractive environment.

On my climb up, with a stop at Readers Rest where I picked up a copy of New Covent Garden Soup Company’s Book of Soups, I noticed many of the shops on my climb up and in Bailgate when I got to the top had notices in the window saying they accepted Bailgate vouchers. What were these I thought, has Bailgate set up a local currency, or are they as it says merely vouchers something like Book Tokens?

On my way down I looked in the Jews House Restaurant and had a chat with a very helpful and friendly Samantha. She explained no it was a voucher not a local currency. She had no information and suggested I visited the Tourist Information Centre as they should have some information. But as that was at the top of the hill, I did not fancy climbing back up again, but said I would look in another day.

The difference between a voucher and a local currency is that a voucher is spent once, whereas a local currency, ie a genuine Bailgate Pound, circulates within a local economy, it stops money leaking out of the local economy.

You spend it in the butcher, he spends it the baker and so forth.

I suggested that they take the next step and establish a local currency. I suggested she looked at the Totnes Pound which has been a huge success since its launch by Transition Town Totnes. It is one of many local currencies which have been introduced.

If you spend one pound sterling in a High Street store or a superstore, that pound goes straight out of the local economy, its buying power lost to the local economy. A local pound may only be spent within the local economy, and thus has a multiplier effect, which benefits the local economy.

For example. I spend ten Bailgate Pounds in the local butcher. He pops across the road to the florist and spends it on some flowers. They walk along to the deli and spend it on some cheese. They go down to the butcher and spend it again. The ten Bailgate Pounds I originally spent have not only benefited the butcher, but several other retailers too by circulating within the local economy.

Other local currencies are the Lewes Pound, Stroud Pound and Brixton Pound.

The Bailgate Pound was a local initiative by Bailgate traders, Lincoln Business Improvement Group, The Bailgate Guild and the Lincolnshire Echo following the collapse of the Lincoln Christmas Market due to adverse weather conditions. Having seen its success let us hope they now go that one step further and introduce a genuine local currency.

The support is there, critical mass has been reached, awareness raised, the Bailgate Pound should be turned into a fully fledged local currency. It is important this is done as soon as possible not to lose momentum.

There are local symbols which can be used for the Bailgate Pound – Lincoln Castle, Lincoln Cathedral, Lord Alfred Tennyson. Could even use characters from the poetry of Tennyson.

An attractively designed Bailgate Pound would become a much sought after collectors items for visitors.

Local currencies have been a success in Totnes, Lewes, Brixton, they retain money within the local economy, essential when the economy is deflating, so why not Bailgate?

The Bank of England injects money into the economy through Quantitative Easing. In reality they are creating money, but if not backed by real resources, real growth, they are creating debt. The underlying problem beside the debt, is the money goes to the banks, they use it for speculation, commodity prices go up. Creation of money not backed by real resources causes inflation. Rising prices, inflation, transfers money from the poor to the rich.

We need money injected into local economies by local councils. Not easy at a times of cuts, but all the more important when the economy is deflating. But the money injected into the local economy has to be retained within the local economy. One way to do so is by the local council acting as a Central Banker to the local economy through backing a local currency.

Stop Press: Top story in The Currency Daily on New Year’s Eve (Friday 31 December 2010)!

Stop Press: Front page news on Lincolnshire Echo on New Year’s Day (Saturday 1 January 2011), with full page coverage inside on page 3. And top news story on their website for New Year’s Day! It looks like the Bailgate Pound may go ahead as a fully fledged local currency. My own talks with local retailers shows a great deal of enthusiasm and support. [see Bailgate currency could be here to stay following success of Christmas initiative]

Also see

Echo prints 100,000 Bailgate Pounds to help traders hit by market cancellation

Shoppers cash in their free Christmas cash as Echo prints 100,000 Bailgate Pounds

Echo prints 100,000 Bailgate Pounds to help traders hit by market cancellation

Shoppers have only a few days left to redeem their Bailgate Pounds

The Totnes Pound – going well and considering its evolution

Town poised for its own currency

Buy a Totnes Pound and Help Maximise Its Potential

How the Totnes Pound works

The Totnes Pound – going well and considering its evolution

The Totnes Pound is far from spent

Good start for the Lewes pound

Lewes Pound – sparkler or damp squib?

Do local schemes such as the Lewes pound have a future?

Will the Brixton pound stick around?

Let’s not put all our pounds in the one basket

If the state can’t save us, we need a licence to print our own money

Beginning of a monetary revolution?

The Lewes Pound: A Transition Network How To Guide

Local Money: how to make it happen in your community

Localisation: A Move Away From Globalisation