Tue, 20th May 2014

Totnes Pound launches new notes

Members of the Totnes Pound group and local tourist supporter on Fore Street showing off the new Totnes Pound notes.

Totnes Pound is launching the next phase of Totnes' very own local currency at the Civic Hall on Tuesday 20th May from 7.30pm. The new t£1, t£5, t£10 and t£21 notes will be unveiled and available to buy with a 5% discount for the first t£10,000 on offer. The new Totnes Pound represents a huge step forward for the scheme. It offers a 5% incentive to people to support local businesses, a much-needed shot in the arm for local traders. "You could think of it as being Totnes' own Quantitative Easing scheme", said Totnes Pound group leader John Elford.

People attending the launch evening will be able to see the new notes, designed by Totnes designer Rick Lawrence, and taste The Totnes Pound - a new limited edition ale from New Lion Brewery. Descendants of some of the notable Totnesians who appear on the notes will be coming to talk about how it feels to have their relatives immortalised on the town's own currency. Local lyrical legend Matt Harvey will be sharing how he almost made it on to the notes but was trumped at the last minute by Totnes singer/songwriter Ben Howard. During the evening you'll also hear from new Mayor Jacqi Hodgson, TTT's Frances Northrop and local traders about why they are so excited about the launch.

Totnes Pound's group leader John Elford says, "We've tried to meet with all the local independent traders and are thrilled to say that the vast majority are supporting the initiative and are really excited about the new denominations. We really wanted to address the feedback we'd received from previous issues of the Pound and so far it looks like we've delivered." The Totnes Pound first appeared as an experiment in local currencies in 2007, and has gone on to inspire other places to do likewise.

Brixton, in London, pioneered the use of electronic currency, and their £10 note features David Bowie. In Bristol, the Bristol Pound is now accepted in over 650 businesses, can be spent on the city's buses and on Business Rates, and the city's Mayor, George Ferguson, takes his full salary in the local money. Bath, Oxford and Kingston-upon-Thames are among those in line to start their own schemes. The impact of such schemes has been such that the Bank of England last year published a paper outlining their position on local currencies.

The new Totnes notes clearly look more money-like than previous incarnations of the Totnes currency, and according to Mr Elford, traders who've seen them are very impressed. They have a host of security features and the striking designs celebrate local heroes past and present as well as features of life in Totnes. Exactly who are the stars of the new notes? "Come along on the night to find out!", Elford adds.

Frances Northrop, manager of Transition Town Totnes remarks, "In the Economic Blueprint we identified the huge opportunity for a massive cash injection into our local economy through a 10% shift in spending, which could bring £2m through food sales alone. By offering a 5% incentive on £21 notes the Totnes Pound is using our very own version of Quantitative Easing to inspire residents to make that 10% shift. Totnes Pounds help to keep money circulating locally, and the launch discount will give a kick-start to encourage Totnesians to do more of their weekly shopping locally. To find out which shops and other businesses accept the Totnes Pound scan the QR code on the notes or simply visit the website directory at www.totnespound.org/directory. We can all step up and be a part of changing the economic future of this town".

The first Totnes Pound was produced in 2007 by Transition Town Totnes as a limited edition of 300 notes, modelled on an original 1810 Totnes pound note. It has since gone through two other incarnations, but has only ever been a £1 note. TTT's Rob Hopkins, who initiated the first scheme, said "the Totnes Pound is one of the things that has really put Totnes on the map, and has inspired some incredible projects around the country. It's thrilling to see our own scheme take this huge leap forward, and soon we will be modelling to the rest of country how with a little creativity, positivity and imagination, the future of our local economy can be something we take into our own hands."