Bristol has invented its own currency to run alongside sterling, the Bristol Pound.

This idea is something that has been done historically in times of deep recession and depression, such as in 1930s America. The concept is to keep money circulating within a local area so that profits and surpluses stick within that locality, rather than disappearing off via multinationals to wherever the headquarters might be.

The emphasis is on concentrating awareness on local businesses and keeping trading and profits much more local.

Sterling is “translated” into Bristol Pounds, and transactions are carried out between persons as normal, but in Bristol pounds rather than sterling. Conversion back in to sterling is easy but carries a 3% charge.

Apparently Bristol traders and retailers are keen to get in on the scheme; they see clearly the benefits of their customers having increased awareness of and supporting their local businesses.

A few other localities and boroughs in the UK have also done this, but this is the first time in the UK that it has been on anything like the scale of a city.

It is ironic to compare and contrast this desire for a “local” approach by people within a country in times of recession to the continuing insistence on “harmonisation” of whole countries to a central objective within the European ideal. Without necessarily agreeing with them, one can perhaps start to appreciate the anger of the Greeks who are constantly informed that there is no other way.