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Chuggers can still get in your face after Government rejects Birmingham council charity collection byelaw

Chuggers can still get in your face after Government rejects Birmingham council charity collection byelaw

🕔25.Jun 2014

Charity fundraisers can continue to stand in front of people in Birmingham shopping streets and ask for money after the Government rejected a city council attempt to pass a byelaw regulating the so-called chuggers.

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis described chugging techniques as “deeply unpleasant” but said it would be wrong to ban charity collectors from approaching the public and asking for contributions.

The council wanted to pass a law preventing chuggers from harassing shoppers.

The byelaw, which would have prevented charity collectors from approaching, following or obstructing pedestrians with a maximum £500 for anyone ignoring the regulation, was opposed by some of the country’s major charities who said they would lose money.

Council leaders say they regularly receive complaints from shoppers in New Street, High Street and Centenary Square who have to run the gauntlet of charity collectors who are intent on persuading them to sign direct debits for regular contributions.

Mr Lewis believes local authorities should work with the voluntary sector to agree precisely how and where high street fundraising should be conducted.

Although chuggers have a bad name there are still many people who welcome the chance to donate to respectful fundraisers, therefore legal clampdowns should only be used as a last resort, Mr Lewis added.

Mr Lewis said concerns could be properly addressed through dialogue with charities and the signing of formal local agreements that set out where and when fundraisers can operate. These agreements have proved successful elsewhere.

Research carried out by the Local Government Association has shown local agreements are working as the number of complaints has fallen in three-quarters of areas they are in operation. The 250th such agreement was recently signed by Canterbury City Council and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Authority, which oversees the self-regulation of the industry.

Mr Lewis said: “British people gladly donate to charity in good faith, but aggressive fundraisers risk turning our high streets into an unwelcome gauntlet of bolshie bucket shakers and clip-board waving connivers.”

“They ought to respect the public’s generosity and not jeopardise good charitable causes by becoming a public nuisance. Councils should be tough and rigid where this has got out of hand, but creating laws so that nobody can fundraise ever isn’t the way to do it.”

“Hundreds of towns across the country have already put the brakes on this menace by making them sign up to sensible local rules stating precisely when and where they can do their fundraising.”

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