Birmingham council plans to challenge government's rejection of chugging by-law

The by-law, which would have allowed the council to fine face-to-face fundraisers up to £500, was turned down by former local government minister Brandon Lewis

Birmingham City Council
Birmingham City Council

Birmingham City Council’s licensing committee plans to challenge the government’s decision to reject a proposed by-law that would have allowed it to fine unruly face-to-face fundraisers, according to one of its members.

The Labour-run council has been pushing for the past year for a by-law that would allow it to fine street fundraisers who caused "obstruction or annoyance" up to £500.

The by-law was rejected last month by Brandon Lewis, at the time the minister for local government, fire & rescue and high streets, who used the opportunity to say that street fundraising techniques were "deeply unpleasant" and "a menace".

But Gareth Moore, a Conservative councillor and member of the licensing committee, said that at a meeting on 25 June – the same day Lewis made his statement – the licensing committee’s chair, Labour councillor Barbara Dring, and Jacqui Kennedy, director of regulation and enforcement at the council, said they would challenge the decision.

Lewis had advised the council to work with the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association to regulate the city’s street fundraisers, but Dring and Kennedy were unhappy with this idea, said Moore.

"Their view is that going into a voluntary agreement won’t achieve anything," Moore said.

Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, has written to Brandon Lewis seeking the legal reasons behind his decision to refuse the by-law, according to a council spokeswoman. She said that officers were also planning to hold discussions with the PFRA.

Peter Hills-Jones, head of policy and communications at the PFRA, said: "Jacqui Kennedy wrote to us and said she was willing to meet us and speak to her council colleagues about the best way forward."

Lewis was promoted to the role of housing and planning minister in the ministerial reshuffle this week and replaced by Penny Mordaunt, the Conservative MP for Portsmouth North.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said Lewis had recommended that the council reach an agreement with the PFRA. Asked if a new proposal could bring a different decision from Lewis’s replacement, she said: "Obviously we would review a new proposal presented in a different form, but I can’t see the decision changing just because there’s a new minister in office."

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