Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 17:44 UK

Councils seek 'chugger' crackdown

Street fundraiser
There are calls to restrict the number of 'chuggers' and their hours

Councils in London are looking at ways to restrict street fundraisers after a survey found 500 of them working on four roads over a six-week period.

Westminster Council wants so-called "chuggers" to agree to work no more than four ten-hour days a week.

Meanwhile Wandsworth Council is calling for a law requiring all fundraisers to be licensed by local authorities to be activated by ministers.

Street fundraising agencies said their activities keep some charities going.

The survey of Oxford Street, Regent Street, Argyle Street and South Morton Street, central London, was carried out for local businesses.

Between April and June it counted 543 fundraisers at work.

Traditional fundraising methods just would not allow many charities to keep up services beneficiaries need
Mark Carter-Nesbitt, fundraising director

Councillor Daniel Astaire of Westminster Council said: "Businesses are extremely irritated, with potential customers crossing the road because they don't want to run the gauntlet of chuggers.

"I don't want to stop giving but we need to control it."

The council hopes fundraising agencies will sign a contract limiting their activities to four days a week between 1000 BST and 2000 BST.

Wandsworth Council said it had a problem with street fundraisers "swarming" the piazza by Tooting Broadway.

They want ministers to activate a clause in the 2006 Charities Act allowing councils to license fundraising.

The council has been negotiating with the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) but described the body's response as "unsatisfactory".

'Serious impact'

Councillor James Cousins said: "We are increasingly unhappy at the growing use of chuggers and the tactics they employ.

"There are simply too many chuggers working this spot.

"They are here every day of the week and it is beginning to have a serious impact on businesses."

A spokesman for the PRFA, which is funded by charities and street fundraising agencies, called Wandsworth Council's statement "inaccurate" and "malicious".

He said: "We have been trying to arrange a meeting with the council for more than a month but received the cold shoulder."

Mark Carter-Nesbitt, director of fundraising company Urban Leaf, said: "Fundraisers are in the streets to improve the lives of others who are considerably worse off than passers-by on the High Street.

"If you don't want to give through a street fundraiser, all you need do is politely say no and move on.

"Traditional fundraising methods just would not allow many charities to keep up services beneficiaries need."

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