Bid to ban chuggers from Redditch Town Centre

By Ian Dipple 04/05 Updated: 04/05 14:21

MOVES are being made to ban chuggers from Redditch Town Centre as shoppers are fed-up of running a 'gauntlet' every time they go out into the street.

Face-to-face fundraisers - also commonly referred to as charity muggers or chuggers - can regularly be seen out on Church Green and along Alcester Street trying to convince people to sign-up to making regular donations to various good causes.

But some of the tactics used - such as obstructing people as they walk past and even following them down the street - have angered residents with people claiming they feel intimidated and harassed. In one case a young man with the mental age of a child was even signed-up.

Now Redditch Town Centre Partnership has decided enough is enough and is holding discussions with the borough council about the possibility of introducing a new bylaw or licensing policy to create an exclusion zone which would ban chuggers from the town centre.

Ros Sidaway, chairman of the partnership, said: "If you go out with a collecting tin you are not even supposed to rattle it but these people seem to think it is fair game to virtually hound you up the road, they don't take no for an answer.

"They are banned from the shopping centre so we shouldn't allow them on Church Green. It's menacing for older people and anybody else who just can't get away from them. You should be able to go shopping and about your business without being harassed."

Redditch is not the first place to consider such a move as Birmingham is also considering a ban while 45 other councils have signed-up to co-regulatory agreements with the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association which limit the number of hours fundraisers can operate, where they can be and allow rules banning tactics such as guilt-tripping and obstructing people to be more easily enforced.

Dr Toby Ganley, head of policy at the PFRA, urged the partnership and the council to work with them as recommended by the Local Government Association and Association of Town Centre Management as part of a review into the legal situation surrounding such fundraising by the Government. He added attempting to ban chuggers using a bylaw would be costly to the taxpayer and not strike the right balance between meeting the needs of charities and the rights of the public not to be pressurised into giving.

"For the charities that choose to use it, F2F is one of, if not the, most successful and cost-effective ways of finding new donors and supporters and the provisional figures for 2011-12 show this is the most successful year for PFRA members ever.

" Any successful attempt to ban this essential form of fundraising would have devastating short-term effects on the services charities can provide to the people who rely on them. In the long-term it’s very likely charities would have to spend more money to generate the income they currently receive through face-to-face fundraising," he said.

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