Cheshire East Council is spearheading moves to tackle the problem of ‘nuisance’ paid street fundraisers – or ‘chuggers’ – in our towns and communities.
Shoppers and visitors have complained about aggressive ‘hard sells’ by some fundraisers and being pestered to provide direct debit details in the street.
Cheshire East is leading the way with its partners to take active steps to manage the behaviour of paid street fundraisers, often referred to as ‘chuggers’ who operate cross the Borough’s towns – including Macclesfield, Congleton, Wilmslow, Crewe and Nantwich. It follows complaints about some collectors’ behaviour.
Cheshire East Council has been working in partnership with local town councils and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) to hammer out voluntary agreements as a basis to resolve tensions and improve professional standards of street collectors.
Councillor Les Gilbert, Cabinet member in charge of localism and enforcement, said: “We know there is a problem and we are determined to do the right thing by our residents, local shops and businesses – and reputable charity collectors who run risk of being tarred with the same brush.
“This Council is committed to protect and support our local residents from unacceptable conduct and harassment by some street fundraisers. We also want to ensure that reputable and considerate charity collectors are also protected and supported.
“We are keen to promote the vibrancy of our town centres as great places to shop, visit and do business. This initiative aims to assist retailers who are concerned that shoppers are being put off coming by the activities of ‘chuggers’ on our high street.”
Cllr Gilbert added: “The problem for all towns is that there is no legislation that covers in detail the activities of ‘chuggers’.
“However, a recent meeting with our partners in this area provided a great deal of positive information centred on the role of the PFRA with a voluntary code with sanctions.
“We will now look to create an effective Cheshire East framework, within which each town will specify its own requirements as a basis for discussions, conducted under the guidance of the PFRA. We believe that a co-ordinated approach across our towns is the best way forward.”
Steve Service, outreach officer at the PRFA, said: “We are pleased to be working with town centres across Cheshire East to get an area wide agreement in place to regulate direct-debit fundraising.
“The right of charities to seek a sustainable form of income must be balanced against the rights of the public not to be put under undue pressure to give money. Following an extremely positive meeting with representatives from local town centres, we are hopeful that an agreement can be reached early in the new year.”
The group is keen to have agreements in place as soon as practicable.