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.