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De La Rue, in Gateshead, wants to produce Bank's plastic money
A 200-YEAR-OLD North-East banknote printer will bid for a lucrative deal to make the Bank of England's new plastic money.
De La Rue, which employs about 400 workers in Gateshead, wants to print the Bank's proposed polymer-based notes.
The move comes as the Bank plans to replace existing cotton paper currency with plastic in 2016.
Bank bosses say the plastic, which can be folded and twisted without creasing, will save about £10m a year in production costs, increase security to foil counterfeiters, and last three times longer than traditional notes.
A De La Rue spokesman said the firm, which employs about 4,000 people worldwide, and produces driving licences, authentication labels and tax stamps, already has the equipment to make the new notes having made plastic money for Fiji and Mauritius.
He said: “We would very much be interested in taking part in the process.
“We have the equipment in place to make the cotton paper and the polymer plastic notes, so whatever the Bank chooses to do, we can make it.
“The Bank is a very good customer for us, so we will be doing what we can.”
De La Rue, founded by Thomas de la Rue in 1813, holds a flagship contract with the Bank to make UK pound notes until 2015, and previously made new currency for Libya to replace cash used in the Colonel Gaddafi regime.
The Bank yesterday (Tuesday, September 17) carried out a public consultation on the changes at Teesside University's Darlington campus, giving people a chance to handle the money.
Under the plans, it could introduce a new plastic £5 note featuring former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill in 2016, and a £10 note, complete with novelist Jane Austen's picture, a year later.
If the proposals are approved, it says paper notes will be withdrawn one denomination at a time.
More than 20 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Mexico, already use plastic currency.
Canada also introduced polymer notes in 2011, though The Bank of Canada was forced to deny rumours the currency was scented after people claimed the money smelt like maple syrup.
Victoria Cleland, head of notes at the Bank of England, yesterday unveiled the new notes, revealing they will retain the traditional picture of the Queen, but would be slightly smaller in size.
She said the notes are more durable and cleaner than paper currency, and would allow authorities to strengthen security and anti-counterfeit measures, which includes using a large transparent window.
She said: “We are always trying to enhance the security and quality of the currency, while trying to stay ahead of the counterfeiters.
“We want to keep the traditions of the notes, such as the historical characters, which we know people like.
“But security is at the heart of any banknote and the most important thing is to make it difficult for counterfeiters.
“We cannot make a note that is impossible to counterfeit, but we can make money that becomes more time consuming, more expensive and more difficult for people to buy the equipment.
“These new notes are not indestructible, but in everyday life they are more durable, and we will keep the tiered approach, so there will be different heights and lengths for the different monetary denominations.”
The Bank's consultation period runs until November 15, with a final decision on any currency changes to be made in December.
Earlier this year, De La Rue denied it was looking to axe workers in the North-East after announcing plans to increase its cost-cutting drive.
It launched a turnaround programme after the group was rocked by a scandal in 2010, when it was claimed employees had falsified paper specification test certificates.
It has since slashed costs, with measures including the closure of factories in Basingstoke and Dunstable and shifting production and jobs to sites including Gateshead.
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