Wolverhampton 'chuggers' threatened with fines

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Charities employing overly-aggressive street fundraisers, or "chuggers", could face fines in Wolverhampton.

The city council, worried the collectors are putting people off visiting, has warned charities they risk a fine of up to £500.

A spokesman said they could be taken to court if it was found they contravened by-laws introduced last year.

The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) said it was disappointed at the news.

The council has written to the PFRA, the firm which regulates fundraisers, warning it of the situation.

A council spokesman said the warning stemmed from a request made through Twitter, asking for people's thoughts on the fundraisers.

'A menace'

He said the council received a "high level" of responses within a short space of time, which he said was unusual.

The spokesman said the "chuggers" were referred to by one respondent as a "menace" which made them avoid the city centre.

A by-law passed by the council last year said that no person in the street or a public place should solicit custom for a service or seek to gather information in such a manner as to cause an obstruction or to give reason for annoyance.

The council said that it had written to the fundraising companies to remind them of this bylaw and that, if contravened, the firm would get a written warning.

However, if it continued then court proceedings could be brought.

The maximum punishment is a £500 fine, he said.

A spokesman for the PFRA said the council did not have the power to licence direct debit collections.

They added that the city council had also said it did not want to take part in a voluntary arrangement which would have seen fundraisers limited to certain areas on certain days.

"That would have balanced the right of charities to be out there asking for funds in the first place and the rights of the public not to pestered," he said.

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