Cumbria's Lake District set to get its own money - the Lake District Pound
The Lake District is set to have its own currency.
The Lake District Pound is designed to boost trade in local businesses, as well as create profit through souvenir sales, and will be used to help fund community and environmental schemes.
It has been developed by the Lakes Currency Project, an independent start-up company set up by Ken Royall, who lives near Windermere and is originally from Barrow.
Profit from souvenir sales will be used to fund community and environmental projects.
The project is in the process of raising funds, with a view to a launch before the end of this year.
"A local currency is a powerful way to strengthen the identity of a place – while also bringing benefits to the local economy,” said Mr Royall, who has an background developing start-up businesses across the world.
“We are in the process of creating the first set of bank notes which will celebrate the unique creativity of our local culture, our landscapes and the stories that make our area special.”
People will be able to swap Sterling for Lake District Pounds or purchase the currency online.
They will only be able to spend it in local shops and attractions.
The project has attracted the support of the Post Office, which will allow businesses to deposit the Lake District Pound directly into their bank accounts as Sterling.
"This is going to be a great initiative with benefits that will affect the whole of the Lake District," said Mr Royall.
"We have secured about half the funding we need to launch this project in 2017. We are keen to hear from individuals or organisations who share our vision and want to play a key role in this project’s success.”
Sophie Crewdson, who is heading-up brand development and marketing for the project, said: "Inspiring visitors to spend their money in local businesses will be at the heart of our marketing – it’s a chance to really celebrate everything that makes our vibrant local economy so special.
“When people spend money with national and international companies as little as 5p of every £1 stays in the local economy. When money is spent in local independent businesses, as much as 50p of every £1 remains in the local economy.
“A local paper currency is also a fantastic platform for creative design that will celebrate our area’s unique cultural identity and create desirable, rewarding souvenirs that give something back to the Lake District."
Mr Royall added: "There are more than 18 million visitors to the Lake District every year and we want to make sure as much of the £1.3bn they spend here remains in the local economy.
"The attraction for visitors is that this is a fun and engaging way for them to explore local culture and at the same time give something back to the area that they love.
"The attraction for businesses is the increased footfall the currency will create and marketing and publicity which we will be working on to promote the currency and promote the businesses who accept it. This is all free for local businesses and it won't cost them anything to participate, which we felt was really important.
"We are in discussions with some really valuable local charitable projects that we are hoping to work with and provide significant annual funding for.”
Mr Royall said making the project work for local businesses is the absolute priority for the team.
“We’ve had so many valuable conversations with the local businesses we hope to support, and are looking forward to many more. This project is all about the vibrant local communities and businesses that make the Lake District so special,” he said.
"We have got a great team who really love this area and are working very hard to create a successful initiative that will bring a real benefit to our region and the people who live here.”
A number of supporters, including the Lake District National Park Authority, have provided seed funding for the project in its initial stages.