Businesses in a town will today launch an initiative to strengthen their economy.

In a bold move to support shops and companies based in Lewes, a new currency has been created – the Lewes Pound.

The pound, which will have the same value as sterling, will be redeemable around the town in a bid to encourage people to spend their money locally.

During the two-week launch period, people will get a 10% discount and be able to buy 22 town pounds for £20.

So far 70 businesses and the town’s farmers market have signed up to the scheme and Lewes Football Club is reported to be interested.

The scheme also aims to help combat climate change by reducing the amount of carbon emissions from travel by helping people shop locally.

But it is not the first time that Lewes has had its own cash.

The town had its own currency from 1789-1895 before local bank notes were discontinued across the country.

This latest venture is the brainchild of Lewes resident Adrienne Campbell from Transition Town Lewes.

She started her campaign for a more self-sufficient community after seeing a similar scheme launch in Totnes, Devon.

She said: “I think it is a great way for people to support local businesses and to educate them about the need to do so. It’s a very important way to help people change the way they think about money.”

She added: “I would like to point out that it is time for people to get out of their comfort zone.

“It is time for people to start thinking about the way they live their everyday lives and the way they spend their money.

“Do we want to invest to invest our money into our community and our resilience or do we want to continue to let far-flung corporations direct the agenda?

“That is what drives me, the need to encourage people to work together to build a better future for ourselves.”

People will be able to use the Lewes pound to pay for goods, can receive it as change, pay it into banks and even convert it into sterling.

The scheme is one in a long line of successfully-launched initiatives by the group, including school workshops, a car sharing club and the Lewes community shopping bag.

Mrs Campbell said: “I’m deeply excited but nervous too.

“The way we spend money in our communities if like the life-blood of that community.”

The currency will officially be launched at Lewes Town Hall at 7.30pm tonight.

Mark Froud, chief executive of Sussex Enterprise, the Chamber of Commerce for Sussex, said: “We wish the Lewes Pound every success.

“This is an innovative way of sustaining local businesses, providing a practical way of buying locally, while creating publicity which can only benefit Lewes as a whole.”