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Thursday 30 April 2015

Paid charity workers to be strictly controlled in Cheshire East town centres


Face-to-face paid charity fundraisers operating in Cheshire East will be strictly controlled in future, following the signing of an agreement with the organisation that manages complaints.

Known as ‘chuggers,’ paid charity fundraisers operate in busy high streets or door to door and persuade members of the public to give financial support to a charity by signing up to a direct debit.

Macclesfield, Crewe, Congleton, Nantwich, Wilmslow and Knutsford town centres will have strict limits on the numbers of fundraisers allowed to operate at a specific time, the days of the week they can be present and the streets they can work in.

Cheshire East Council has signed a site management agreement with the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association, which operates a code of fundraising practice and seeks to ensure the street fundraisers comply with the agreement.

Fundraisers must not pressure or pester potential customers, follow them in the street, stand within three metres of a shop doorway, cashpoint, pedestrian crossing or station entrance.

They must be satisfied the customer is not under the influence of drink or drugs, or is unable to give informed consent through illness.

The PFRA organisation has more than 120 recognised charities signed up to the code, which is self-regulatory.

Cheshire East Council has joined over 100 other local authorities applying similar controls.

Steph Cordon, the Council’s head of communities, said: “We have had far too many complaints from retailers and businesses, also members of the public, who say they are suffering inconvenience because of the presence of face-to-face fundraisers in their town centre.

“We want our town centres to be welcoming places and people should not feel deterred by the presence of paid charity workers and businesses should not suffer because customers are put off visiting their shops.”

The new protocol for controlling street fundraisers will come into effect on June 22, when charities will be told which days of the week and where their representatives can operate.

The site agreement does not apply to volunteers making traditional coin collections.

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