SWARMS of town centre Chuggers are about to have their confrontational tactics reined in.
Busy shoppers who have to run the gauntlet of the charity fundraisers on a daily basis will welcome the strict new rules following a rise in complaints about the intimidating tactics used by some groups operating in St Helens.
A new agreement, which comes into force on Monday, December 10, will see Chugger numbers limited to a maximum of four collectors operating no more than three days a week.
St Helens Council approved the agreement with the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) last month as part of a wider strategy to improve the town centre experience for shoppers and visitors.
Reports - from police, local councillors and town centre businesses - reveal an increase in the number of complaints from members of the public about the issue.
Chugging is not subject to the same restrictions as traditional charity fundraising - as it involves people signing up to direct debit payments rather than giving cash.
Many town centre businesses have been unhappy about the ‘blockading’ tactics adopted by some of the charity teams, with many stores claiming the Chuggers have a negative effect on their trade by putting people off coming into their shops.
But after December 10 collectors will have to observe strict codes of practice relating to the way they approach and engage with people. Crucially, they will not be able to congregate in groups at busy points in the town centre.
In St Helens town centre fundraisers will be allowed to operate only in Church Street - between Hardshaw Street and Bridge Street - and Ormskirk Street, at the junction of Baldwin Street and Cotham Street.
Only one charity will be allowed to fundraise in any one area on any one day. No more than two branded fundraisers will be allowed to operate in each area. Frequency of fundraising will be also limited to Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10am and 6pm.
The PFRA will be charged with ensuring their members comply with the new agreement and managing bookings from their members wishing to operate in St Helens. Any complaints made to authorities in St Helens will be fed back to the PFRA so that action, including warnings, fines and exclusion, can be taken.
The council is introducing the agreement as part of a wider effort to improve the town centre experience for shoppers and visitors.
ANY members of the public wishing to complain about the activities of collectors can still do so by contacting the council on 01744 676731 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.