Council ‘monitors’ charity collectors

On the street: Chorley Guardian editor Chris Maguire quizzes a charity collector in the town centre

On the street: Chorley Guardian editor Chris Maguire quizzes a charity collector in the town centre

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Strict new measures could soon be introduced to tackle the number of charity fundraisers in Chorley town centre.

Critics have branded them as ‘Chuggers’ – a combination of the words ‘charity’ and ‘muggers’ – after being asked to sign up to a direct debit for a host of different good causes.

Now, the Chorley Traders Alliance has approached Chorley Council to introduce new guidelines that will help to regulate how they operate.

It will focus on the numbers of collectors allowed in town at any given time, where they are allowed to be based and how often they are out asking for money. It comes after similar rules were introduced in cities, including Manchester and Edinburgh.

Malcolm Allen, chairman of the Traders Alliance, said: “We don’t want to deter people collecting for good causes, but these street fundraisers have been getting out of control in the numbers that are stationed close to shop doors and how many are approaching shoppers at one time.

“We have heard of up to six people approaching one woman and we want Chorley to be a friendly and welcoming place to come. We found out about the measures being introduced in Manchester and we have asked Chorley Council if they can do the same.

“We think it will make it much better for everyone concerned.”

Mr Allen said he is also set to meet with a representative from the Public Funding Regulatory Association to discuss the proposals.

He added: “The chuggers approach the vulnerable and we don’t want to put people off coming into town because they think they are going to get hassled. Chorley is a nice place to shop and we want to keep it that way.”

Last Friday an Evening Post reporter was stopped by a charity collector in Chapel Street who was wearing a Save the Children T-shirt.

The female collector was very polite and works for a company called AAP Fundraising.

They get paid an hourly rate so that the money raised in people signing direct debits goes straight to the charity.

Gareth Moore, a director at AAP Fundraising, said: “We do not believe the fund-raising activity we conduct is over-burdening the public, but we are aware that in more smaller town centres, like Chorley, it can seem that way and we would shy away from that.

“It is not in our interests to get in a situation where people do not feel they want to give to the charities we are supporting, we want to be sustainable, so we will always look to work with anybody which can help us do that.

“I believe people deserve the right to give to charity and the methods we use are proven to be most effective.”

Lesley-Ann Fenton, Chorley Council’s Director of Partnerships, Planning and Policy, said: “The council is aware people are not happy about being approached by charity collectors and we are working with traders to improve our guidelines.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and look into any complaints that we receive.”