Brixton will be taking a step in the direction of market towns Stroud, Totnes and Lewes with the launch of the Brixton Pound on Thursday 17th September. As the economy is still in the throes of recession, the concept of transition towns is being looked at as a model that could help ease the economic tensions by encouraging communities to become more self-supporting, as well as helping combat the problems of peak oil and climate change added to by transportation of goods from around the world.
It is hoped the launch of the new currency, which will not replace pounds sterling in Brixton but will be available as an alternative for customers, who will be offered their change in Brixton pound notes, will help keep money within the local economy. The currency will be available in £1, £5, £10 and £20 notes and a large number of businesses in the area have bought into the idea, agreeing to accept payment for goods or services in the local currency, either solely in Brixton pounds or in conjunction with sterling.
The project, headed up by Tim Nichols, has cost £2000 which has been funded by Morleys department store in Brixton, and Lambeth Council in order to design and produce the bank notes that will be in circulation. The notes include holograms and metallic strips to ensure security and prevent fraudulent notes entering the system.
One of the major obstacles the scheme will be faced with however is whether the whole community embraces the idea. Although there are many businesses supporting the introduction of the new currency, there are many others who are sceptical or against the project from the offset, believing it to be a nice idea but not a practicality. Tim Nichols said,
“One of the main concerns shopkeepers have had is that they will end up with lots of surplus notes. So we have arranged for two exchange points in Brixton, one of which will be in Morleys. Lewes and Totnes have also given us advice to pass on to businesses about the impact on ledgers and accounting. ‘Don’t run out of cash’ is their biggest tip.”