FORMER TV star Gail Porter could be the face of a new local currency in the capital if a community scheme goes ahead.
Shoppers in a seaside suburb of Edinburgh will be issued with their own celebrity-adorned currency as part of an initiative aimed to encourage local shopping.
The “Portobello Pound”, backed by the city council, could even encourage an “Edinburgh Pound” if residents like what they see.
The community has already fought off plans for a large supermarket to be built so that local businesses will not suffer from the economic downturn so plans for the local currency will be welcomed in the area.
A local competition is to be held to decide whose face should go on the pound.
Portobello-born Porter and 19th Century music entertainer Harry Lauder, who was also born there, are said to be the top contenders for the currency.
Details for the pilot scheme will be finalised in summer 2012 and a launch for the local currency will follow later in the year.
The cash would only be valid in Portobello but locals will be given 21 Portobello pounds for £20 sterling- a five per cent discount- to encourage them shop in the High Street.
Justin Kenrick, a director of Portobello group Pedal, which is leading 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 fiver 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 1930’s, 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 scheme has been backed so far by the council but the shiny new currency will not be supported by local tax payers.
Councillor Tom Buchanan, the city’s economic development leader said, “I think there is something we can look at.
“It has worked well elsewhere, but we are interested in keeping pounds raised in Edinburgh local.”
The community scheme is inspired by a similar initiative which took place in the Borders town of Hawick last year.
According to a council report published today, the currency could boost the local community.
Dave Anderson, the council’s director of city development, said: “The scheme encourages participants to spend the currency rather than save.”