Charities have warned that a bylaw to ban street fundraisers from Birmingham city centre could be a devastating blow at a time when the need for their services has never been greater.

The Post revealed last week that shops and businesses backed city council plans to ban charity collectors - dubbed 'chuggers', or 'charity and muggers' - from major shopping parades.

John Bines, director of fundraising for international development charity Everychild, said more than 90 per cent of new donors came from street fundraising. Stopping it would mean fewer children in poverty-stricken parts of the world would be helped.

Everychild has about 15 people on the streets of the West Midlands on weekdays trying to encourage new donors, and Mr Bines said it would be a "major problem" if that opportunity was removed.

Mr Bines said: "We are receiving regular donations from about 30,000 people in the UK and this is really the only means of recruiting new supporters.

"If we didn't have these opportunities to talk to people we wouldn't be able to keep delivering what we are delivering."

He added: "We are in this position where just as it is getting tough here it is also getting tough in the developing countries where we work.

"There are more children without parental care out there being left alone through poverty so our job gets harder just at a time where our capacity to recruit gets harder."

The council's investigation into the problem was prompted by complaints from Retail Birmingham, the organisation representing city centre shops and businesses.

The council agreed to look into the problem and act if there was evidence that charity collectors were a major problem. The results of an official survey, announced this week, suggested there was an issue.

As a result chairman of the city's licensing committee Barbara Dring said that officials were drawing up new regulations which could outlaw the practice.

However, the bylaws will have to be passed by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) has cast doubt over whether this would happen.

Ian MacQuillin, head of communications at the PFRA, said the bylaw would be unlikely to gain support from central government because self-regulation is the preferred means.

He said: "We are trying to create the right balance between charities' duties and the rights of the public not to be put under undue pressure.

"In Leeds and Manchester we think we are hitting the right balance but in Birmingham if they introduced the bylaw there would be no balance at all. Charities would be off the street and their beneficiaries would suffer as a result.

"However, the Government is looking at how to review the licensing around street fundraising, and it is unlikely that the Government would allow something that does outside statutory legislation.

"All bylaws have to be approved by the Secretary of State and it would be very surprising if a bylaw like this was approved."

Mr MacQuillin said self-regulation agreements, including those set up in Solihull in March and Wolverhampton in April, can reduce dissatisfaction with charity fundraisers in city centres.

He cited an agreement with Plymouth in August last year which has seen monthly complaints about street fundraisers reduce from around 50 to two.

He said: "We have been trying to talk to Birmingham for quite some time about this because we can provide the regulations that they want. We have more than 50 such agreements across the country limiting the number of street fundraisers, saying where and when they can operate and we make sure they stick to the standards.

"We can do everything that Birmingham City Council say they want to do to put in levels of control."

He added: "Since this story has come out we have made contact again but until now almost all of our attempts to contact them have been rebuffed."

"We have now re-established contact in light of this story, so maybe things will change."