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Gloucestershire town gets its own currency

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: September 12, 2009

  • The new currency

  • Laurie Lee

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STROUD has launched its own recession-busting currency, with its best-known author appearing on the banknotes.

Laurie Lee, who wrote Cider With Rosie, appears on the £5 banknote of the new Stroud Pound.

The project hopes to fend off the recession by keeping money inside the Five Valleys area of Gloucestershire, allowing shoppers to use the notes in participating businesses.

Economist Molly Scott Cato, of the Stroud Proud Cooperative, said: “The aim of the currency is to keep economic value within the the local economy, but the link to the local identity is also important.

“What makes Stroud better is that we have a lot of local producers here. We have a big farmer’s market here and we hope there will be a synergy between consumers and producers.

“Green economists hope to achieve this kind of closed loop.”

Laurie Lee was chosen for his “socialist principles” and because of his commitment to the region.

In its guide to the currency the group explains: “The recession means that we are all facing difficult economic times, but history teaches that when a community works together it can flourish even in the harshest conditions. The new local currency is one way that we can show our commitment to each other and to a secure and sustainable future.

“The current turbulence in the financial markets also suggests that global currencies may not be a secure basis upon which to organise our economic life.”

The launch tomorrow, at the town’s appropriately named Threadneedle Street, will be attended by Dr Peter North, a currency expert from Liverpool University.

Individuals, businesses and charities wanting to use the Stroud Pound must join a co-operative.

Members can then buy the currency at a rate of one pound per unit in denominations of £1, £5, £10 and £20 at a later date.

One key bonus of the currency is that three percent of the money exchanged for the vouchers will go to local good causes. The currency will also become invalid after six months to encourage spending.

The prototype banknotes will feature iconic images of the Stroud valleys, including lawnmower inventor Edwin Beard Budding and the Gloucestershire Old Spot pig.

The group was partly inspired by the success of the Chiemgauer currency unit in Germany. Similar currency experiments are underway in Lewes, in Sussex and Totnes, in Devon.

Laurie Lee’s widow Cathy has recently approved the use of his image to be used on the £5 Stroud Pound note. The author was born in Stroud in 1914, and later lived in nearby Slad. He wrote several volumes of war poetry, but most famous work, is Cider with Rosie – a nostalgic account of his childhood after the first World War.

The name Stroud Pound actually drew with “Teasel” in a public poll, but was deemed to have more credibility.

Teasel will remain the informal name because of the plant’s traditional use in the local cloth industry. It will also be the logo displayed in the windows of participating stores.

Around 15 businesses, including butchers, bakers, the local bookshop and brewery are participating. But it is hoped that number will grow once the currency becomes known.

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    Jon, Cirencester  |  September 14 2009, 3:12PM

    It's not a currency. Not anywhere near one, and its very misleading to call it one. The only way this would benefit Stroud is if local businesses paid in stroud pounds, which of course can not happen. The onus is on the consumer to exchange money for these tokens, and I just can't see that happening, even with the 3% to good causes. People want to choose their own good causes and choose when and how much to give, they also want the freedom to spend money how and where they want. This scheme, whilst full of good intentions, is very much wide of the mark and achieves very little.

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    Reyaz, Gloucester  |  September 14 2009, 1:33AM

    Ithaca is a great example of what can be done. Anyone who is remotely interested in local currencies should do some research on the Ithaca Hour. On a plus side, if this is going to work anywhere, it'll happen in Stroud. Stroud people have always been more open to new ideas, plus they already have a history with LETS.

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    Sam Baugh, ON, Canada  |  September 13 2009, 10:00PM

    Local currency worked for a long time in Ithica, New York. The only down to a local currency is the tax adjusters who still believe that they and only they have a right to be on the planet so therefore everyone else must pay a tax...or die. Money is only as good as the people who accept it and use it. Even gold would be worthless if the people at large refused to use it. The whole reason for having bankers is that 99 percent of the mass populations of the world just don't get it...and thus bankers go free as they murder to force those masses to use the banker created money. God didn't create money nor did it or he or she create bankers to create money. People just don't get that either. People at large are pretty much dumb animals who are amazed at just being amazed - so you really can't expect much else from them. Sex, beer, a bowl of beans and somewhere to sleep is about all a human requires or wants and that's about all any animal has to look forward to....and then the banker takes that away.

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    David Lyons, Bucks  |  September 13 2009, 5:11PM

    It is a pity all those people making cynical comments have not done any research on how local currencies are doing elswhere and take such a narrow view... they obviously do not realise what benefits complementary currencies are bringing to Lewes and Totnes.... and next week Brixton on London.

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    Chris, Cheltenham  |  September 13 2009, 1:25PM

    Also, what about counterfeiting? As you will all know the currency issued by the national mint has all kinds of measures to make duplication of the currency as difficult as possible. For instance, serialisation, holographs, special ink and a very high printing detail that can be checked with a microscope. At a guess this new currency would not have any of these....

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    Joe K, Barton & Tredworth  |  September 13 2009, 10:44AM

    It combines all the awkwardness of a LETS scheme with none of the community spirit that such an enterprise engenders. Let me know how it works out...

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    Sid, the Kid  |  September 13 2009, 8:59AM

    This is just a bit of fun so long as the shops will take stirling as well as Stroud pounds (really a fancy sort of voucher). If, on the other hand, trade is restricted to Stroud pounds only it is no longer a good thing. It would hark back to the days when factory owners paid workers in tokens to be spent in the factory owner's shop. I'm sure this won't be the case.

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    Jack, Stroud  |  September 12 2009, 11:53PM

    I don't think Stroud has the ability to pull off a local currency. You just can't get everything you need there, at some point, usually once a week, you will need to go to gloucester or cheltenham. Plus I don't know many people who still carry cash. Most people pay with a debit for small purchases, credit for larger ones and will go to the cash point if they need cash. The need for an additional currency does not factor in.

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    Jason, The Real World  |  September 12 2009, 9:43PM

    What a load of rubbish, stroud you are dumb

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    Craig, Newent  |  September 12 2009, 7:25PM

    What a waste of time and money. The way I see it, People in Stroud go out and buy Stroud pounds and then spend them in shops that take them. The Shops then take them back to whoever produces them and exchange them for pound sterling. What on earth is the point? Maybe I'm missing something, but I just can't see this taking off, especially with just 15 businesses accepting this so called currency. And also why does 'Green Something' have to get into everything these days? Can we not have a product/idea that doesn't try and jump on the 'Me too' Eco bandwagon?

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