I suppose I should be honoured to be deemed noteworthy enough to appear in an April’s Fool ‘joke’, even if it is only Third Sector.

In an article bylined by ‘May Dupp’ they reveal that a street fundraising ban unites main parties and I’m quoted as saying what good news a ban would be. Not the best April Fools joke ever – but good to see they are thinking of me!

Meanwhile, the temporary ban on chugging in Tooting Broadway remains while we try and talk with the Professional Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA). Theoretically there shouldn’t be any chugging there at all, although we know the agencies ignore this from time to time. The main sticking point in the discussions is a fairly fundamental difference of opinion over what licensing means – the PFRA believe it means the council rubber stamps their applications to chug, the council believes that it means assessing applications on their own merits and against council policy.

Not a stock photo, but MiniMe's first digger

Being a new man
Actually a fairly quiet week this week.  Partly because it’s still summer, and consequently everything is just a bit quieter, and partly because I started my new man duties this week – which effectively limited me to half-days consisting of an hour’s work during the morning nap and a few hours after bedtime.  It also provides me with the photo of the week:  The Digger.  I rather like the photo for some reason, the lighting and aperture worked far better than it normally does for me.  Indeed, I like it so much it’s now my wallpaper (though that was a close run thing against the man in the nappy).

I am incredibly hesitant to raise this again. Not because it’s an issue that has gone away, or because I think I was wrong (feedback has been overwhelmingly in favour of the council’s position) but largely because the majority of the discussions on here were negative circular and, in one case at least, borderline offensive. While I’ve no problem with allowing and responding to the comments (which a few people have suggested I would have been better deleting or at least ignoring) I recognise it all gets rather dull for the reader.

[Within a few hours of writing this I have temporarily (and possibly permanently) removed several comments which appear to be from sock-puppets supporting chugging.  I’m a little sad since  this is the first time I’ve had to do this on the blog. I’ve no issue with publishing comments disagreeing with, or in outright opposition to, my views – and there are many comments like this scattered through the blog – and I don’t have any issue with comments being anonymous but feel it’s perfectly reasonable to remove comments purporting to be from multiple people when there’s some evidence it’s all the same person.]

Having said all that we are continuing to monitor the situation (one trader reported counting 11 – that’s eleven – chuggers operating the Tooting Broadway piazza area earlier this week, most using aggressive tactics) and are taking up the issues with the charities directly, since the PFRA are unwilling or unable to deal with the problems themselves.

New Covent Garden Market and Nine Elms
Perhaps one of the most interested meetings I had this week was with New Covent Garden Market (NCGM) to get an update on their progress towards redevelopment. It really brings home the scale and scope of development that is taking place in Nine Elms when you go there. It is a massive site.

It also brings home the complexities involved in redeveloping the whole area – since it won’t just be NCGM developing the area, but also the new US Embassy and the Power Station alongside a number of smaller developments. Moving beyond our borough boundary Lambeth are ambitious to redevelop Vauxhall. None of these developments will exist in isolation, and making sure the whole area ‘works’ instead of just creating a series of individual developments will not be easy, but will definitely be worth it.

Bank Holiday Weekend and crime maps
I will, as I usually do, be taking a blogging break for the bank holiday (unless there’s something so amazingly urgent I can’t wait) – so the crime maps will appear on Tuesday rather than Monday. In the meantime have a great bank holiday weekend.

In all his time at Tooting Broadway, Edward VII has never pestered anyone for a direct debit.
In all his time at Tooting Broadway, Edward VII has never pestered anyone for a direct debit.

There’s been a good response to my, and others, various mutterings about chuggers.

One of the most exciting is that as a result of yesterday’s council press release Sadiq Khan’s office have been making enquiries about the problem (and as far as I know all have confirmed that a problem exists). If the local MP backs the council’s campaign it will be a huge boost, especially as we need Government ministers to activate clauses from the Charities Act 2006 so the council can regulate chugging.

So far, I’ve yet to see or hear someone criticising our concerns. Comments from my previous post include:

  • Chugging is “by it’s very nature an intrusive and pressurising pest, in the busiest areas at the busiest times… Is it fair to expect all of society, including vulnerable individuals, to be harrassed on the street, whatever the cause?”
  • “High pressure guilt-based selling should not be allowed on the streets.”
  • “I’m sick and tired of being approached four or five times a day … and being guilt tripped, insulted, followed down the road and generally harrassed for money.”

And on the council’s website:

  • “it is time this blight was removed from the streets and shopping centers. I am not surprised businesses are suffering as a result of their irritating presence.”
  • “I also cross the street to avoid these individuals.”

One repeated comment is that it’s good we’re trying to do something at Tooting Broadway, but what about the other town centres.  The simple fact is that we don’t have any power to do anything anywhere – we are campaigning on Tooting Broadway because that is where the problem seems to be worse.  However, if successful, we’ll will be looking at regulating chugging across the borough and not just in Tooting.

If you want to have your say you can either comment below, or have your say on the council press release.