St Helens Council set to adopt new policy regarding town centre 'chuggers'

St Helens town centre
St Helens town centre
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A new policy aimed at controlling ‘chuggers’ in St Helens town centre more effectively has moved a step closer to being adopted.

Under current legislation, charities must obtain a permit from the local authority before a charitable collection takes place.

However, St Helens Council does not grant permits to individuals or groups selling goods for charitable purposes.

A loophole means these collectors – nicknamed ‘chuggers’ for charity muggers – are still able to operate as they do not actually exchange money.

In February, the council’s licensing and environmental protection committee approved a public consultation on a proposed street collections policy it hopes will provide better regulation of street collections for charitable or other purposes.

The new policy will also incorporate smaller fund-raising groups who do not have charity status.

The full policy was open to public consultation from February 25 to April 9 and was made available on the council’s website, along with a response link.

A new council report has revealed that the consultation generated no responses.

“Whilst it is not unusual for a consultation such as this to generate few or no responses, the lack of response could be explained by the fact the policy reinforces current practices but is more generous to local fund-raisers, who may have therefore felt there was no need to respond,” the report says.

“It is anticipated that the new policy will bring positive benefits, in particular for the borough’s fundraisers.”

Last week, the licensing and environmental protection committee agreed to adopt the policy, although this will need to be approved by full council.

Coun Jeanie Bell, chairman of the committee, said it was “disappointing” the council did not receive any feedback on the consultation.

However, the Labour councillor said she was “satisfied” the council’s licensing team had done everything it could to circulate the consultation.

Coun Bell added that the lack of response does raise questions around how the council communicates consultations.

“Going forward it’s something we definitely need to think about, not just from a licensing perspective but right across the council,” Coun Bell said.

“Because communicating with the public with these kinds of changes is important.”