A ban on nuisance “chuggers” in Birmingham – the first of its kind in the country – has been approved by council bosses.
The bylaw means fundraisers could be prosecuted if they cause an obstruction or annoy passers-by.
The policy was put forward amid fears that chuggers, which is a portmanteau of charity and muggers, were hitting trade, with shoppers deterred from visiting the city centre and suburban parades by the prospect of being harassed for cash.
Coun Tony Kennedy told the council’s licensing committee that some collectors acted as a “gang”.
He said: “Only last week I was stood some while watching the gang on Millennium Bridge.
“They were spaced out in such a way not just pushing the boundary of behaviour, they were operating as a gang.”
Committee members voted unanimously in favour of introducing the ban.
The proposal will now be sent to the Department for Local Government for provisional approval and will go before a full council meeting with a resolution for it to be formally adopted.
An authority report said “many” street fundraisers flouted rules set by the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association.
Those include not following someone for more than three steps or blocking their way.
The council’s survey found 84 per cent of respondents were put off walking through the city centre because of collectors.
Of the 634 people asked, 96 per cent said they had been approached by charity workers.
Half said they were stopped for their bank details and 93 per cent wanted face-to-face fundraising banned from the city centre.
Michael Bushell, manager of Sutton Coldfield’s Business Improvement District, said trade was suffering as customers avoided the high street.
He said: “You run the gauntlet – if one doesn’t get you the next one will. That is a really big problem.
“We’re not anti-charity. We just object to the fact that somebody can come along and descend upon us and we have no actual say in what’s going on.”
The Institute of Fundraising last month wrote to the council expressing its fears that the byelaw would hit charities’ fundraising abilities.
Chairman Mark Astarita said: “Were we to lose this level of support, it is almost certain we would have to cut services to our beneficiaries.”