Brixton launches it's own local currency
Brixton ‘grows its own’ and launches UK’s first urban local currency.
London -- The Brixton Pound (B£) was launched in September 2009 at Lambeth Town Hall. The B£’s arrival, almost a year to the day after the collapse of Lehman Brothers set in motion the financial crisis, follows hot on the heels of the Stroud ‘Teasel’ currency launched on 12 September 2009, and amid rumours that Canterbury is likely to add to the growing number of towns in the UK issuing their own currency.
Designed by Rob Adderly the currency notably doesn't feature the Queen's head but instead local heroes - such as Olive Morris, Brixton Black Women’s Group Founder. The Brixton pound (B£) can be purchased in £1, £5, £10, and £20 denominations and used at local participating businesses ranging from music shops to dance studios to food shops in the Brixton area.
The B£ is the UK’s first local currency in an urban area and the fourth transition town to have its own currency, following the Totnes Pound in Devon, Lewes Pound in Sussex and Stroud Pound in Gloucestershire.
Because the B£ can’t leave the area, nor be ‘banked’ to earn interest, customers using it know they will be putting money in to circulation, supporting local shops and jobs. The scheme will maintain the diversity of the Brixton high street and preventing it becoming just another ‘clone town’ in the face of the credit crunch and fierce competition from chain stores.
Brixton Pound, debateyourplate.com
“The Brixton Pound is a community currency that will enable local people to vote with their wallets for a strong and diverse Brixton economy. If you spend with a large chain retailer, over 80 percent of your money leaves the area almost immediately. With the B£ we know that our money will stay working for Brixton. This puts Brixton at the heart of a powerful local renaissance that is fast gathering pace around the world” says Josh Ryan-Collins, expert in local currencies at nef (the new economics foundation) and one of the team who has helped to develop the B£.
Stacey Raymond, general manager of Morleys says “as one of the few independently owned department stores left in the UK, Morleys is proud to support a scheme that should help preserve the independence and diversity of the Brixton high street. The Brixton Pound is also a symbol of the area’s creativity and community spirit, features that people often don’t think about when they think of Brixton.”
Each of the new Brixton notes commemorate local heroes, voted on by the people of Brixton and celebrating the diversity of the South London suburb, these are:B£1 – Olive Morris
A radical political activist and community organiser who established the Brixton Black Women’s Group, and played a pivotal role in the squatters’ rights campaigns of the 1970s; Olive was born in Jamaica in 1952 and moved with her family to Britain aged 9. She was a Brixton resident from 1961-1975 and died at the age of 27 from cancer.
B£5 – James Lovelock.
Tthe independent scientist and environmentalist who, whilst working for NASA, first developed the ‘Gaia’ theory, that the earth is in a delicate but dynamic steady-state that human activity is disturbing, in particular through global warming. James was a Brixton resident from 1925-1933
B£10 – C L R James
The Trinidadian journalist, historian, socialist thinker and anti-colonialist who chose to spend his final years on the ‘front line’ of Brixton
B£20 – Vincent Van Gogh
Who moved to Brixton aged 20, reportedly returning to Holland a changed man, having seen first hand, the impacts of poverty on his daily walk from Brixton to Covent Garden.
Christopher Webster, owner of James Webster’s shoe shop on Brixton High Road said,“As the oldest independent shop in Brixton, I’m very happy to endorse this scheme and so, I’m sure, would be my grandfather who started it up in 1870. Today, small family owned businesses need all the help they can get and I hope the B£ helps to keep Brixton’s high street unique” says
Brixton has long been associated with urban deprivation, drugs and riots, but the reality is that it has always had a strong community spirit and pride and is home to a diverse range of thriving independent businesses, including a vibrant street market which recently fought off a takeover bid from Tesco. It is hoped the B£ will enhance what is best about Brixton, forging new community links and championing local businesses.
“Brixton has a vibrant and diverse business community and I’m delighted that we are the first area in London to benefit from this scheme. It is an innovative and creative way to encourage local people to support the local economy and in particular independent shops, and I plan to be first in the queue to buy and spend my Brixton Pounds” says Councillor John Kazantzis, Cabinet Member for Employment and Enterprise.
Duncan Law, a member of the B£ team and of TTB (Transition Town Brixton) says “the B£ gets people thinking about localisation, and discussing what money is and what a local economy is as well as practically making it happen”.
The B£ team hope that the currency will mirror the success of a growing number of local currencies around the world that are proving that local home-grown solutions are powerful antidotes to the corrosive impacts of big-chain retailers and profit-hungry banks that have become ‘too big to fail’.
Brixton Pound/ Expatica