Birmingham had been the council to watch on chuggers: they were hoping to introduce a by-law that would enable them to ban chugging in the city centre. Unfortunately the government has refused them permission.
Councils are generally powerless when it comes to dealing with chuggers. When I was attempting to get a solution the response from the charities minister, requesting that he simply activate an already existing law that would allow councils to licence chugging was a flat no. Instead, he suggested, we should enter a voluntary agreement with the Public Fundraising Regulatory Assocation, the chugging trade body.
However, our contact with the PFRA revealed they thought a voluntary agreement meant they would volunteer to chug when and where they wanted, and the council would agree to it. I found that an impossible stance, when businesses here report chuggers’ aggressive tactics causing loss in trade, as they did in Birmingham, I was not prepared for the council to be put in the position of effectively sanctioning loss of trade in certain areas.
Birmingham found “96% per cent of visitors to Birmingham said they had suffered unsolicited approaches by ‘chuggers’ and 84% said this would put them off walking around the city centre.” I simply do not see how any council can pretend to support business or high streets allowing that to happen, and Birmingham deserve credit for finding a creative way to deal with it.
What is deeply disappointing that the local government minister, despite agreeing that “chugging techniques are deeply unpleasant” has decided that local government shouldn’t have the power to do anything about it. It makes you wonder what happened to localism.
I’m convinced that there is an EU directive somewhere that’s preventing our government from giving permission. Either that or the charities business are giving financial donations to political parties in exchange for policy favours.
I can’t imagine it’s an EU thing, but more likely lobbying.
The thing I don’t understand is why councils are not allowed to decide: then properly localist solutions could be brokered meaning shoppers, businesses and fundraising agencies all benefit from an agreement designed to suit the local area.