A new by-law banning ‘chuggers’ from Birmingham city centre streets has been held up due to an 11th hour intervention from a charity collection trade body.
Birmingham City Council’s licensing committee was due to approve the by-law and have it sent to the Government for approval when it met.
But the by-law, which might also have covered Sutton Coldfield town centre, has been delayed for at least a month after the committee was handed information from the industry body The Public Fundraising Association (PFRA).
Chuggers, or ‘charity muggers’, have become an increasing menace on the city’s streets as they collect names, addresses and in some cases debit card details for a variety of charities and fundraising organisations.
Shop owners and city centre businesses have complained at the sheer number of chuggers stopping people, saying that it has deterred people from shopping. They fear that any person walking through the city centre on any day could be approached repeatedly.
According to a survey by the Community Safety Partnership and Birmingham Retail BID, 96 per cent of visitors said they had suffered unsolicited approaches by chuggers and 84 per cent said this would put them off walking around the city centre.
While charities collecting cash are controlled by licensing, those collecting just contact and bank details are not.
The proposed by-law was to control chuggers in the same way, by permitting only passive collecting and banning collectors from approaching, following or obstructing pedestrians. Breaches could result in prosecution and a fine of up to £500.
A report to the committee said: “The primary benefit of a by-law is that it can be specifically targeted at nuisance causing behaviours ensuring that face to face fundraisers are required to conduct themselves in the same passive manner as charitable cash collectors.”
It warned that a by-law might take time to enact, as it would require some legal expense and vetting from the Department For Communities And Local Government.
The committee was told by director of regulatory services Jacqui Kennedy that they had withdrawn the report due to a late letter from the PFRA and the report would be updated for the July meeting.
The PFRA is a self-regulatory body funded by 26 members, the majority of which are national charities.
An updated report is expected at the next licensing committee meeting on July 17.