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'Chuggers' face restrictions in Town Centre

A SPECIAL agreement designed to control the activities of face-to-face charity fundraisers – commonly known as ‘chuggers’ – has come into force in Newcastle town centre.

The Site Management Agreement (SMA) has been drawn up between the Borough Council and the Institute of Fundraising Compliance Directorate (IoFCD), setting out specific terms under which the fundraisers must operate.

It was introduced in response to complaints and concerns from local residents and businesses and defines the precise locations, days and times that fundraisers should adhere to.

The SMA – which took effect from Monday, 27 March 2017 – also restricts the number and size of teams allowed in the town on any one day.

Only two town centre sites can now be used by fundraisers: Ironmarket (between Yates’s and Greenwoods) and High Street (between Boots and McDonalds), on Tuesdays and Thursdays only, between 9am and 7pm.

Only one charity/not-for-profit organisation is allowed to operate across the two sites at any one time, with a maximum of three authorised individuals.

Further conditions require the fundraisers to make sure there is an adequate ‘comfort zone’ for pedestrians who do not wish to engage with them. They also have to remain a minimum of one metre from shop frontages and keep a ‘reasonable distance’ (approximately three metres) from each other and any other legitimate street activities, such as buskers, street traders, Big Issue sellers and market researchers.

Prior to the SMA’s introduction, shoppers had started to report incidents to the Council as antisocial behaviour, with at least one person complaining that they could not get from one side of the street to the other without being ‘accosted’.

Similarly, businesses were concerned that shoppers taking ‘evasive action’ to avoid the fundraisers were being driven away from their doors, losing them potential trade.

In drawing up the SMA, the Borough Council and the IoFCD aimed to ‘provide a balance between the duty of charities and not-for-profit organisations to fundraise and the rights of the public to go about their business without the impression of undue inconvenience’.

Street Ambassadors from Newcastle’s Business Improvement District (BID) will actively monitor fundraisers in the town centre, to ensure they comply with the requirements of the SMA.