A new policy that will help St Helens Council regulate ‘chuggers’ in the town centre more effectively could soon be adopted.
Under current legislation, street collection must be for a charitable purpose and charities must obtain a permit from the council before a charitable collection takes place.
Applications are limited to registered charities, although the council do not grant permits to individuals or groups selling goods for charitable purposes.
However, these collectors – nicknamed ‘chuggers’ for charity muggers – are still able to operate as they do not actually exchange money.
Currently the council does not have a policy for the control of street collections for charitable or other purposes.
This week the council’s licensing and environmental protection committee agreed to move forward with a public consultation on a proposed street collections policy that it hopes will provide better regulation for these types of collectors.
Lorraine Simpson, the council’s licensing manager, said: “You will be aware there are a lot of people down there who are selling things such as wristbands and things for asthma.
“They’re not approved street collectors and they’re not actually charities and we’ve had a lot of difficulties with this ourselves, trading standards, etc, in terms of the complaints we get from the public.
“But we’ve been powerless to do anything about it.”
Ms Simpson said the council has looked at what other local authorities have done around this issue and said the new policy will, if adopted, allow the council to manage the street collectors “more tightly”.
She said: “We’ve captured all those people now in this policy so we will have something that enables us to deal with them, because now we can’t.
“We very much want the public to know that they aren’t official collectors.
“The money isn’t being redirected for charitable purposes.”
Ms Simpson said as there is no government legislation that deals with this issue, the only way the council can deal with these types of collectors is through voluntary agreements.
She told members that these street collectors do co-operate with the local authority.
Ms Simpson added: “What we want is a safe environment for people to visit and shop in and not feel like they’re being hounded when they come to visit, which is something I think we’ve all heard a lot over the last few years.”
Currently, permit applications are limited to registered charities. The new policy will incorporate smaller fundraising groups who do not have charity status.
The licensing and environmental protection committee authorised the licensing manager to carry out a six-week public consultation into the proposed street collections policy.