The possibility of introducing a Crystal Palace pound was put forward in a debate at the Crystal Palace and Norwood Chamber of Commerce last night.
Those in favour hope that the currency would encourage residents and businesses to buy locally, following the success of the Brixton pound introduced four years ago.
Crystal Palace residents listened to a presentation given by an expert from the New Economics Foundation, a think tank promoting social, economic and environmental justice.
NEF researcher Leander Bindewald explained the social impact a local currency could have. He said: “Local currencies like the Brixton Pound are a really great tool to get closer to whatever kinds of objectives one might have, particularly in the field of sustainability: [promoting] less consumption, reducing our carbon footprint.”
He did say however, that there were obstacles when setting up a currency: “It’s a very tricky business. You run into resistance at all levels.”
“People think, you just print some money, and you throw it out on the street”
“But if you do a local currency you’re actually not making money, you’re not printing new money that will have its own life.”
Crystal Palace resident and operations manager for the Brixton Pound, Mehul Damani, said: “If they want to do something similar to the Brixton Pound, I think it’s really important that the business community take ownership of it.”
He added that the Brixton pound, now accepted by over 200 businesses in the area, has encouraged local residents to think about how they spend their money: “If you were to go and spend £20 at a large national or international [business], where is that money ultimately going, where are the profits going?”
Karl Richter, Chair of the Friends of the Crystal Palace Subway, who set up the meeting, said:
“What excited me most [about the meeting] is to explore the process of considering the options available – I think the exploration of the relevant issues will have a significant socioeconomic benefit, perhaps more so than whether a local currency is ultimately established as a result.”
Some traders at the meeting voiced concerns about creating a local currency, arguing that it would be more cost-efficient to simply run a ‘Buy Local’ campaign.
The iconic Brixton pound notes, which feature such local notables as David Bowie, were first printed in 2009.
There are approximately £100,000 Brixton pound notes in circulation. Since its introduction three years ago, the currency’s electronic format ‘Pay by Text’ has become the most popular way of spending the local currency.