Portsmouth City Council leader welcomes review on face-to-face collecting

AT WORK A chugger
AT WORK A chugger

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A REPORT calling for tighter controls on face-to-face charity collectors has been welcomed by Portsmouth’s council leader.

An official review of the charity sector by Lord Hodgson calls for new powers for councils dealing with street fundraisers – commonly known as chuggers – following complaints about agressive behaviour.

He said there was a ‘broad consensus’ that the licensing laws do not apply to face-to-face street collecting because it involves donors signing up to direct debit payments rather than handing over cash.

The report says the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association estimates around £130m is donated to charity each year through ‘chugging’.

Earlier this month The News reported that city council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson was seeking a voluntary code to be launched in the city aimed at introducing more regulations for ‘chuggers’.

He said face-to-face selling was rife in Commercial Road, which created an unpleasant experience for shoppers, and said the government’s existing Charities Act in place does not cover direct debit street collecting.

He previously chaired a meeting with Lord Hodgson, charity representatives, councils and the Public Fundraising Regulator Association, to discuss the regulations.

On Lord Hodgson’s new report, Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘It’s exactly what we came up with – I’m really pleased with the report.

‘He has listened to us and we are pleased that we have been able to get that message into the government.

‘We need to protect our shops so that they don’t scare shoppers away from the town centre.’

Rhoda Joseph, centre director of Cascades Shopping Centre in Commercial Road, said: ‘The report is something I very much welcome. It’s a bit overdue.

‘It’s the density of the chuggers in Commercial Road that has been the problem.’