We recently blogged about micronations. If you’re not quite ready to set up an entire new country, you might want to dip your toe in the water by declaring independence for your local area in a more targeted way, perhaps with local services.

Today we’re looking at some of the fascinating ways that areas of the UK have bucked the trend and decided that a local system is better than a national one.

Complementary Currencies

There are good reasons for establishing your own currency. If you keep the money circulating locally, you’ll:

  • support the local economy
  • reduce “food miles” (the environmental cost of moving food from producer to consumer)

Totnes was the first to establish its own currency in 2007, but several British towns have followed suit. The purpose of a local currency is to encourage money to be spent with local businesses. For example, you can use the Totnes Pound in the local butchers and restaurants, but not in the supermarket chains, so money doesn’t “leak” away from the area. Some local currencies contribute part of the payment transaction into a community fund to be spent on local causes.  None of these currencies are legal tender, but they work in the same way as a gift card or a voucher, circulating between local people.

The places that do this often identify as “Transition Towns”, which is a more general initiative to promote self-sufficiency.

Local Telecoms Services

White Hull Telephone Box
Photo of a Hull phone box from CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Municipal telephone companies existed in several locations in the UK at the beginning of the twentieth century, but all were absorbed by the Post Office (now British Telecom ( BT)) except for the one in Hull. As a result of this, Hull is the only place in the UK not served by BT. They have telephone boxes in the town which are cream, to underline this.

Local Energy Suppliers

In the UK’s competitive energy market, any company can apply for a supply licence. There are now over sixty suppliers of energy to UK domestic customers. Some local authorities have set up not-for-profit energy companies in order to provide local people with lower energy costs and address fuel poverty. The first of these was Robin Hood Energy, launched in 2015 by Nottingham City Council, and other towns and cities have since employed a similar model.

Sharing economy

What better way to keep things local than to share with your neighbours? The sharing economy, which has largely been enabled by the internet, means that we can all make better use of our resources by pooling them in ways that may not have been possible in the past.

Lift sharing and minute-by-minute level car rental are changing the way that we think about car ownership. Do we all need a set of ladders or a pressure washer, or can we share these things around our neighbourhood? We can certainly pass things on when we’ve finished with them, either by selling or giving them away on a listing site.

Satan reclines on his throne

If you want to read about a more outlandish and militant attempt at keeping things local, take a look at Hooflandia. Jeremy Clovenhoof has built a moat around his local pub and has set about redesigning everything from the currency to the army.

Hooflandia is available in Kindle and print versions at: