G-20

This weekend the world's financial leaders are coming to West Sussex.  Ahead of the G-20 summit of world leaders in London next month, finance ministers will gather at the South Lodge Hotel in Lower Beeding.

They'll be trying to find ways to pull the global economy out of the ever-worsening downturn.

In Britain, the lowest ever interest rates have clobbered savers, but businesses still aren't feeling the benefits.  With no other option left, the Bank of England has now resorted to what it euphemistically describes as "Quantitative Easing", where it buys debt off the banks.

This is another way of saying that they're going to print money.  Some economists say it's the answer.  Others say it will store up disastrous inflation.  Let's hope that it does work and helps to get credit flowing again.

But why should we leave printing money to Gordon Brown?  I think it's time for radical local action, and that we should create a South Downs Pound.

Across the county border in Lewes, they have introduced their own currency, the Lewes Pound, bearing the image of Thomas Paine.

And this is not the first time that Lewes has had its own currency.  Between 1789 and 1895 Lewes Pounds could be spent alongside Sterling.

Similarly, in Massachusetts, the county of Berkshire has created BerkShares, and these are now accepted by 300 shops since this began in 2006.

There's a serious point to these schemes.  In these ‘transition towns', which try to adopt sustainable living and prepare for life when oil runs out, their own currency is circulated within the community, supporting local products and services.

So let's start a South Downs Bank and print some currency.  I suggest that we put Lady Thatcher's image on the notes, and I volunteer to be Chairman.  (I will gracefully decline a multi-million pound salary and pension).  After all, we couldn't do a worse job than the current lot, could we?

Michelle Taylor