David Lepper, Labour and Co-operative MP for Brighton Pavilion, presented a petition from Brighton & Hove traders to the Speaker in the House of Commons on Wednesday 16 March. The petition calls for new laws to regulate ‘chuggers’ (direct debit fundraisers).
The petition on behalf of Brighton City Centre Centre Business Forum and North Laine Traders is signed by Tony Mernagh, Brighton City Centre Business Forum’s Chief Executive, Soozie Campbell, City Centre Manager, Peter Stocker of the North Laine Traders Association and Andrew Bird, proprietor of Silverado in Meeting House Lane.
It follows a presentation of a 200 plus signature petition to Brighton and Hove City Council from traders calling for action.
David Lepper says, “For nearly three years now I have been receiving complaints from traders and residents about the numbers of these collectors particularly in the North Laine area where pavements are narrow and shops close together. Many shoppers find their presence intimidating and traders say they can lead to people being put off coming to certain shops.
“I’ve raised this with the Public Fund-Raisers Regulatory Association at a meeting in Parliament and I know there have been discussions with local trader’s representatives to attempt to hammer out a code of practice such as not standing in doorways of shops and moving on after an agreed time.
“However, the code is not being kept to and there is some evidence that the collectors lead people to believe that they are themselves volunteers working on behalf of the charity in question rather than paid workers.
“The Charities Bill recently started its progress through Parliament in the House of Lords and I agree with the petitioners who say this gives an excellent opportunity to investigate ways to regulate or license this kind of collection.
“”The petitioners make it clear that they have no complaint against the traditional ‘shake a tin’ collectors. I know using chuggers can help boost the funds of worthwhile charities but it also seems they are putting many people off giving. The voluntary approach to regulation has been tried and it’s not working.”
Soozie Campbell, city centre manager, says, “We are delighted that David is working so hard to ensure that our voice is heard at the highest level and we very much look forward to receiving a response from a Minister in the near future.”
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