Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis today (25 June 2014) called on councils to take sensible steps to clamp down on high street harassment, signalling a get-tough message to so-called ‘chuggers’.
The minister believes local authorities should work with the voluntary sector to agree precisely how and where high street fundraising should be conducted.
He states that ‘chugging’ techniques are deeply unpleasant but 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.
The minister has declined a request from Birmingham City Council to regulate all face-to-face fundraising in the city through a local byelaw.
Mr Lewis was clear residents’ concerns can 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.
Local Government Minister Brandon 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.
The Local Government Association’s latest street fundraising survey found that self-regulation was starting to reduce the amount of complaints from the public.
See more about site management agreements.