BRIXTON gets its own currency today, part of an attempt to get local people to spend their cash in local shops.
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To start with, there will be £10,000 Brixton Pounds in circulation, in notes ranging from £1 to £20, which can be exchanged for normal pounds, or, organisers hope, spent in the 70+ businesses who have signed up to the scheme.
“We want to hit home the idea of localism,” said Brixton Pound Project Manager Tim Nichols.
“We are in London, the financial hub of the world, and are trying to do something that goes against the grain of the big banking system that we are living on the edge of.”
The design of the currency is to be unveiled at a launch meeting at Lambeth Town Hall tonight, with famous Brixtonians like David Bowie, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Sharon Osbourne among the names predicted to get their faces on the new notes.
The Brixton Pound idea is part of a wider initiative called Transition Towns, which aims to push the idea of local community action.
Local currencies have already been set up with some success in rural towns like Totness and Lewes, but Brixton is the first UK inner-city involved.
Some critics say that what works in the countryside, where people like buying local farmers’ produce, won’t work in Brixton, where market stalls are famous for selling stuff from around the world.
Others point to the protectionist nature of the scheme: what if a Brixton Pound cafe on Brixton Hill gains customers at the expense of a non-participating rival a few hundred yards up the road in Streatham?
Still others can’t get the creepy shop-keeper couple from The League of Gentleman out of their heads whenever they hear things about local shops and local people.