Chugger row: Wandsworth councillor accuses PFRA of 'bunker mentality'

London borough responds to claims of organised campaign against street fundraising

A councillor has accused the organisation that represents face-to-face fundraising of adopting a "bunker mentality" towards criticism of the practice.

James Cousins, regeneration and community safety spokesman for Wandsworth Council in London, spoke out against the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association on his blog yesterday.

His comments came after a row between the PFRA and Wandsworth Council and another Conservative-run London local authority, Westminster City Council.

Both councils criticised face-to-face fundraising, prompting Mick Aldridge, chief executive of the PFRA, to accuse them of instigating an orchestrated campaign against street fundraising.

The two councils have denied the claim, and Cousins claimed Aldridge's response indicated his organisation had adopted a "bunker mentality".

"Perhaps the PRFA doesn't realise that two councils independently expressing concern – supported by huge numbers of residents – might actually be a sign that their chuggers are a real problem and councils, quite rightly, want to do something about it," his blog said. 

Daniel Astaire, cabinet member for community safety at Westminster City Council, said the PFRA needed to acknowledge that people had legitimate concerns about street fundraising and work with other organisations to find solutions.

Businesses were "extremely irritated" by face-to-face techniques and he could understand why, he said. "Fundraising is not best done by aggressively approaching people on the street and taking down sensitive information such as bank details," he said.

Aldridge said: "We have never denied a minority of the population might be irritated by a small number of face-to-face fundraisers. But irritation is not a reason for prohibition."

He added that of 26,379 complaints to the Fundraising Standards Board in 2008, just 379 related to street fundraising.

 

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