The Bristol Pound is a localised currency intended to stop the net outflow of cash from Bristol – the idea being that if you paid for a product or service with a Bristol Pound as opposed to a normal Pound Sterling, the trader is required to spend that money as a Bristol Pound themselves – either to pay a local employee, or a local supplier, you get the general idea.
The thinking is that in a recession and in the face of rising globalisation, when a normal Pound is spent in Bristol, a large percentage of it (or even worse, all of it) is exported from Bristol, going into the pockets of people outside of the region. By keeping the money local, it’s an attempt to create a virtuous effect of doing business in the local area, benefitting local businesses and people.
I make no secret I’m a big fan of local reinvestment – I’ve touched on this when writing about localised fast broadband projects such as co-operative ones like B4RN (which might actually achieve this) and large gold-plated schemes like DigitalRegion (which isn’t doing too well at the moment, as a locally-based South Yorkshire DR reseller – Ripwire – has gone bump over the weekend).
Early days for the Bristol Pound yet – they are still inviting suggestions for who should be on their money – obviously the legendary engineer Brunel, who had such an influence on the city, should feature, but what about one of Bristol’s famous fictional sons, like Casualty’s Charlie Fairhead? Or is the irony of the BBC moving the Casualty production from Bristol to Cardiff a bit too much?