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Islington council seeks 'chuggers' ban

PUBLISHED: 07:36 05 January 2012 | UPDATED: 17:39 09 January 2012

Councillor Paul Convery

Councillor Paul Convery

Archant

Islington could become the first place in the country to ban "chuggers".

The council is consulting lawyers about bringing in a by-law to stop teams of “in your face” street fundraisers who sign up long-term direct debit donors – and work for agencies that take a cut of the payments.

The move would answer the calls of residents who complain of being hassled by the collectors, often nicknamed chuggers or charity muggers.

Cllr Paul Convery, Islington Council’s executive member for planning, regeneration and transport, said: “There are too many, they hassle people and they are in your face.

“It seems to be legal robbery in some ways and it gives charities a bad name. The time has come to tackle this nuisance.”

The council is also urging the government to bring into force licensing powers introduced in the 2006 Charities Act – and is demanding the industry watchdog, the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA), remove the borough’s streets from its list of approved sites.

The Gazette reported in December that the council was entering talks on limiting numbers, but PFRA’s offer has been rejected, with Cllr Convery saying it amounted to “business as usual”. He now wants a complete end to fundraising at the seven sites – the Angel, Highbury Corner, Archway, Farringdon, Holloway Road and Old Street – despite the fact it could inflict a blow to charities that rely on the cash.

Tracy Griffin, fundraising director at Shelter in Old Street, said: “Face to face teams are a very ­important and effective way of reaching people who may need our help, as well as recruiting new supporters.

“It is highly regulated, both in terms of numbers allowed on the streets and also in behaviour. All of our fundraisers abide by a strict industry code of practice.”

Lib Dem Cllr Susan Buchanan, who has raised concerns about chuggers, said: “It can’t go on as it is, but I worry that banning it altogether is a bit heavy-handed. We need to consider it from the charities point of view as well.”

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