AN East Lancashire town is set to pioneer its own currency in a bid to keep shoppers ‘local’.
Traders hope that the ‘Colne Quid’ will become the currency of choice in the Pendle town, aftering seeing the success of similar intiatives around the country.
With independent stores beginning to flourish - with the reopening of Shackleton Hall and redevelopment of Colne Arcade - shopkeepers want to ensure the money stays within the local economy.
Their inspiration has been the Totnes Pound, which has spread like wildfire across the Devon town, and a committee has been formed to promote the new tender.
The grand launch for the Colne Quid has been pencilled in for August 9, near the town’s market, with 25 businesses already signed up.
The organising committee are now urging other shopkeepers to get involved.
One of the committee members, David Ormerod, of Outline Print Services, said: “It is still in its infancy and now we need to market it.
“It will be on sale at the launch and a Colne quid will be worth 90 pence, so buying items should be cheaper.
“We are also hoping that Colne shopkeepers will buy from other stores using the Colne Quid, so we can get it in circulation.”
And the denominations of the notes - which are set to feature Colne philanthropist and preserves magnate Sir William ‘Pickles’ Hartley - are being ironed out although similar schemes have adopted one pound, two pound, five pound and even twenty-one pound notes.
If a shopper wanted to buy a fiver’s worth of Colne Quids, it would cost them £4.50, or £9 for a ‘tenner’. The currency actually acts as a discount voucher, which can be redeemed at signed-up shops.
County and borough councillor Azhar Ali, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Pendle, said: “I think anything that encourages people to use independent shops rather than big supermarkets is very welcome.
“It will be interesting to see how it works. Anything that helps people’s businesses is brilliant and should be welcomed.”
Coun Joe Cooney, leader of Pendle Council, said: “It sounds a very interesting idea. We have a Colne Local scheme encouraging people to try and shop locally, and we also ran the Festive Fandago scheme recently where people had a card marked when they bought from local shops and could win prizes.
“Anything that gets people shopping locally and using independent shops is a good idea, it seems a really good idea and one that is definitely worth looking at and pursuing.”
Other East Lancashire towns have considered the introduction of a currency scheme - but were faced with practical problems.
Chris Gribben, manager of Burnley’s Charter Walk shopping centre, said: “We looked at having a local scheme like this in the town centre.
“But because we have got so many national retailers, they tend to have their own loyalty schemes and run their own promotions. Boots has the Advantage Card, Sainsbury’s and others have the Nectar card.
“What we have seen in Burnley is the introduction of a loyalty card by Standish Street traders, where there are independent shops, and clearly as a chamber of commerce and shopping centre we have been supportive of that.”
Chantelle Norton, who manages the Totnes scheme, which launched last May, has already seen the benefits it can bring.
She said: “It provides shoppers with an additional way to buy goods and services from businesses that are local to them, and at the same time feel confident that more of the money they pay will recirculate locally, thus supporting local jobs.”