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New deal for charity collectors.

Chris Satori
Fed up with running the gauntlet of charity fundraisers every five minutes while you're trying to do your errands in town? Or those fake 'charity' clothing collectors who drop their bags through your letterbox? Lancaster City's Licensing Department is responding to complaints by setting out new regulations to govern both.

Street fundraisers sign up for new deal
Charity fundraisers are to have new controls over where and when in Lancaster City Centre they can ask people to make donations by direct debit.

Lancaster City Council has signed a Site Management Agreement with the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) to regulate direct debit ‘face-to-face’ fundraising in Lancaster.

The agreement, which comes into force on 22 August, will restrict fundraisers to two separate sites in the city centre between 9am and 6pm on certain days of the week. Fundraisers will not be permitted in the city on market days.

Up to five fundraisers will be allowed to operate in the following areas at the following times:

Market Street (Monday and Friday): Penny Street to Market Gate and the Museum to King Street/China Street. Market Square is not included in the area.
Penny Street/Cheapside (Tuesday and Friday): Common Garden Street to James Lane and Church Street to Market Street. Horseshoe Corner is not included in the area.

Coun John Harrison, chairman of the council’s Licensing Regulatory Committee, said: “While charities play a vitally important part in our society, members of the public equally have the right to go about their business without being inconvenienced. As we had received some complaints about the locations where fundraising was taking place, we approached the PFRA to seek a solution.

“This agreement does not prevent charities from raising much-needed funds – it balances their rights with those of the public and puts into place a form of control over where and when they can and cannot fundraise in the city centre.”

Toby Ganley, from the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association, said: “People have a right to decline to give to a charity, but a charity has an equal right to ask them to support their cause and their beneficiaries, and this is what the new agreement with Lancaster City Council enshrines.

“Any time a fundraiser breaks the agreement or the best practice code, such as straying outside their zone, the council can come straight to the PFRA and we’ll put it right.”

Anyone who believes fundraisers are breaking the agreement can email or telephone 01524 582033.

The details will be passed on to the PFRA who will act on the complaint.

85% test for house-to-house clothing collections
Bogus house-to-house charity clothing collectors are being given their marching orders by Lancaster City Council.

The council has brought in a new policy to further regulate collectors operating in the Lancaster district in light of a flurry of applications for licences from private companies.

Many of these donate only a small percentage of their proceeds to charity, misleading householders who make donations in the belief that the proceeds are going to charity.

The new policy will mean operators applying for a collections licence will have to donate at least 85% of their proceeds - allowing for a small element to cover administrative costs - directly to charity.

Collections will also be limited to prevent more than two companies operating within the district at any one time.

Coun John Harrison, chairman of Lancaster City Council’s licensing regulatory committee, said: “Clothing collections are a crucial source of income for many UK charities.

“Unfortunately a few rogue operators are costing them dear and are damaging the many legitimate charities who operate legally in collecting clothing and other items for good causes.

“The message from us is clear – companies who purport to be operating on behalf of a charity, but take the vast amount of the proceeds for themselves, have no place in our district.”

House-to-house collections are regulated by the House to House Collections Act 1939.
All house to house collections for a charitable purpose in the Lancaster district must be licensed by Lancaster City Council, and the collectors authorised by the promoter.
All genuine house to house collectors are licensed and you can contact the council on 01524 582033 to check them out.