Portobello looks to cash in as it launches own currency

How Sir Harry Lauder might look on the Portobello notes
How Sir Harry Lauder might look on the Portobello notes
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It is one single currency that is unlikely to cause Europe-wide ructions.

As politicians across the continent scramble to prevent the death of the Euro, shoppers in Portobello are about to witness the birth of their own currency.

How Gail porter may look on the Portobello notes

How Gail porter may look on the Portobello notes

A new community initiative will see Edinburgh’s seaside – where residents have already fought off plans for a new supermarket to help local shops – get its own “Portobello Pound” in order to encourage people to spend money locally.

If the city council-backed pilot scheme is a success, an “Edinburgh Pound” could be rolled out in “town centres” across the Capital.

The community group behind the plan intends to hold a local competition to design the notes used for the new currency, with Portobello-born TV presenter Gail Porter and music entertainer Harry Lauder likely to be among those that are in the running to become the face of the currency.

Full details of the pilot scheme are expected to be finalised by June, with a possible launch later next year.

The currency would only be valid in Portobello and shoppers are likely to be given 21 Portobello pounds for £20 in sterling in order to give them a discount to encourage them to shop locally.

Justin Kenrick, a director of Portobello group Pedal, which is spearheading the pilot scheme, said: “There are a range of reasons that it could work and the most obvious one is that, if it is based on a five per cent discount, you get things five per cent cheaper and that builds up loyalty to the local high street.

“The community council here is doing a campaign to support the High Street and it is likely to tie in with that. “Economic conditions seem to be going to get a lot worse and it seems we’ve only seen the edge of that.

“In the 1930s, local currencies really took off when there was a bit of an economic meltdown and they did really well during that, so it might be the right time to do it.”

The proposals have been backed by the council but are not supported by public funds.

Councillor Tom Buchanan, the city’s economic development leader, said: “I think there is something we can look at. It has worked well elsewhere, and has not worked well elsewhere, but we are interested in keeping pounds raised in Edinburgh local.”

The scheme is based on a similar initiative in the Borders town of Hawick last year.

A council report published today said the currency could boost the local area. Dave Anderson, the council’s director of city development, said: “The scheme encourages participants to spend the currency rather than save.”