Licensing set to reduce number of city centre fundraisers

By on 13/04/2016 in News

Proposals to reduce the number of face-to-face fundraisers operating in Birmingham by more than 70 per cent are set to be discussed by councillors next week (20 April 2016).

Birmingham City Council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee will consider an agreement drawn up with the Public Fundraising Association (PFRA) to limit charity fundraisers, also known as ‘chuggers’, activity in the city centre.

Teams of fundraisers, of up to six people, currently operate over seven city centre zones including Broad Street, Bull Street, Cherry Street/Union Street, Colmore Row, Corporation Street, High Street and New Street, which includes two zones. In total, up to 42 fundraisers could be asking people to sign up to regular charity donations on any given day.

Committee members and PFRA representatives were taken on a walking tour of the city centre and Sutton Coldfield on 17 July 2015 to identify key locations where face-to-face fundraising took place.

Following this visit, officers suggested the number of fundraisers be limited to two per zone, but the PFRA responded with a revised proposal, which includes:

  • Reducing the number of fundraisers per zone from six to four
  • No fundraisers to work on New Street on Wednesdays and Saturdays
  • No more than three zones to operate on any given day
  • Only two zones to operate on Wednesdays
  • No neighbouring zones to operate on the same day
  • Implementing a shorter zone in Corporation Street to avoid it overlapping with New Street
  • Broad Street and Victoria Square no longer to operate as fundraising zones

These proposals, if agreed at committee, would see a maximum of 12 fundraisers operating in the city centre on permitted days, a possible reduction of 71 per cent.

A proposed consultation with retailers and companies within the city centre Business Improvement Districts is set to take place following the committee’s discussion of the PFRA’s proposals.

Chris Neville, Head of Licensing for Birmingham City Council, said: “We recognise that charities are struggling to secure donations to enable the good work that they do to continue, especially in the current financial climate.

“While the council doesn’t want to stop charities from engaging with potential donors, it must also balance the feelings of the general public who may feel intimidated and retailers who may have been adversely affected by face-to-face fundraising.

“The PFRA’s proposed site management agreement does show a willingness to work in partnership with us to ensure charities can fundraise without detracting from other activities in the city centre, however it is hoped a further reduction can be agreed.”

Peter Hills-Jones, Chief Executive of the Public Fundraising Association said: “Birmingham is a great city, proud of its heritage and its future. Our charity members understand this and want to ensure the city centre is somewhere residents and visitors alike feel is welcoming.

“We have already established voluntary agreements with over 100 councils, which balance this with charities’ equal need to raise vital funds. I hope the city council approves this significant reduction so we can begin working to improve fundraising in the UK’s second city.”

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