Why do we put up with “chuggers” (charity muggers) hassling us in Grove Street and with illegal street collectors bending the rules? Genuine charity street collections are strictly licensed and are typically granted licenses for just one day per year; collectors are not allowed to ask the public to donate and should not even rattle their collecting tins to attract attention! And they definitely cannot just turn up whenever they feel like it.
The chuggers get round the rules by not collecting cash but by getting people to sign direct debits – which amount to the same thing. Illegal collectors stand in shop doorways, arguing (wrongly) that they are not actually in the street. Both are a public nuisance.
Recently, a bloke and a girl were shaking their buckets in Grove Street and imploring passers-by to donate to a little-known children's charity that I have noticed collecting several times in Wilmslow. I asked the girl if she had a permit and she showed me a tatty copy of one from Cheshire East for a door-to-door collection; “Not legal for street collecting”, I told her.
Her mate was standing in the doorway of the T-Mobile shop and was pretty shirty with me, telling me that it was a "business to business" arrangement with T-Mobile. Rubbish, of course – although it was certainly good business for him, as these illegal collectors are paid generous commissions – they are not volunteers.
Grove Street shops are struggling to attract customers and having pushy collectors and chuggers will surely deter potential shoppers. Also, these illegal collections must have a negative impact on legal ones such as those conducted by the NSPCC and other reputable charities, for which my wife will be doing a stint this weekend.
Unless and until our council takes action on these public nuisances, we should be very choosy about which collections we support. And shopkeepers should be aware of the regulations.