Plastic money

Roadshow>> Currency Note • UK

Published: Tuesday 15 October 2013

At a little kiosk in Oxford’s Westgate shopping centre, Bank of England officials answer questions about their plans to introduce plastic-like, polymer bank notes in Britain. Banners declare polymer notes to be “Clean Secure Durable”. Bank staff proffers prototypes and asks passersby to give feedback. Oxford is the first stop on a tour to consult the public on plans to make the new Winston Churchill £5 note a polymer one. The Jane Austen £10 note would follow.

“You don’t really know what the public thinks until you talk to them,” says Victoria Cleland head of the bank’s notes division.

“You’ve got a Canadian working there, haven’t you,” asks pensioner Michael Pierce, not the first to draw a link between the plans and the arrival of new Bank of England governor Mark Carney, whose homeland already uses polymer notes. Cleland repeats her explanation that the polymer plan is much older.

More than 650 people handle the notes before the day ends. From Oxford, the roadshow moves on to the Metrocentre in Gateshead and then to Bangor, Plymouth and Glasgow in October.

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