Tighter controls for Norwich charity collectors demanded

Sarah HallTighter controls on charity workers known as 'chuggers' could be introduced by council chiefs - after fears Norwich shoppers were being put off by the collectors.Sarah Hall

Tighter controls on charity workers known as 'chuggers' could be introduced by council chiefs - after fears Norwich shoppers were being put off by the collectors.

The so-called 'chuggers', also dubbed 'charity muggers', are people who ask members of the public to sign up to pay standing orders and direct debits to charities.

Some shoppers have felt intimidated by the number of such collectors in streets such as Gentleman's Walk, but because the practice does not involve any exchange of cash, they do not need a licence from Norwich City Council and that means there is no way of limiting their numbers.

But that could change in the future if a motion is agreed at Norwich City Council tonight .

The motion has been put forward by Antony Little, Conservative group leader, after the issue was raised by Stefan Gurney, the Norwich City Centre Partnership manager, who pushed for the issue to be tackled at the latest City Centre Safer Neighbourhood Team meeting, as revealed by the Evening News last month.

Mr Gurney said: 'I received several complaints from shoppers around Christmas in Gentleman's Walk. They said they felt intimidated by so many different people approaching them in the street and that it had put them off coming.'

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That prompted Mr Little to put forward a motion that Norwich City Council should do more to regulate the charity collectors, by taking a leaf out of the book of Nottingham City Council.

That council joined forces with the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) to come up with a framework defining where the collectors can be based and how many can operate at a time.

Mr Little, who is also city councillor for Bowthorpe, said Norwich City Council should look into how the issue has been tackled in Nottingham with a view to following suit.

He said: 'There are very few issues which get an overwhelming response from the public, but this has been one of them. There is a great concern that you do run the gauntlet when you go down Gentleman's Walk.

'I was contacted by the PFRA who suggested that we look at what they have done in Nottingham. They have got a framework which divides the city up and then specifies periods when collectors can operate.

'It also limits the number that operate and the number from each charity. That seems like a good way of dealing with it to me, so I am proposing that Norwich looks at that to see if it is feasible here.'

What do you think of Norwich's charity collectors? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk