Stay in the box or we'll fine you, Newcastle council tells fundraisers

Newcastle City Council yesterday introduced a public space protection order that restricts fundraisers to areas measuring 8ft by 3ft at the top and bottom of the high street

Face-to-face fundraising
Face-to-face fundraising

Street fundraisers in Newcastle upon Tyne could face fines of £100 if they step outside one of two areas measuring 8ft by 3ft at the top and bottom of the high street, under new rules introduced by the local authority.

The rules were brought in by Newcastle City Council after its plans to ban face-to-face fundraising completely were challenged by the Institute of Fundraising.

Instead of an outright ban, the council has introduced a public space protection order, which will prevent fundraisers operating outside the two small designated areas, marked out on the ground with tape.

In addition, the order, which came into force yesterday, prevents more than two fundraisers at a time from operating on the site, and they will be allowed to do so only from 10am to 4pm on two days a week, which must not be consecutive days.

They will be allowed to operate on only one day a week in December, and will not be able to fundraise if a separate charity street collection is taking place.

Only one organisation will be allowed to fundraise on behalf of one charity each day and will have to apply at least six weeks in advance. Fundraisers will have to wear branded jackets, which they will have to remove when they are on breaks, according to the rules.

Any breach of these rules could result in a £100 fixed-penalty notice from the council or a police officer, the council said.

The IoF was unable to persuade the council to sign up to a site-management agreement to manage face-to-face fundraising in the city.

Nick Kemp, cabinet member for regulation at the council, said it had listened to the public when drawing up the new rules, which he described as a "proportionate response".

He said: "Face-to-face fundraising has caused nuisance and annoyance to people, so we have used our public space protection order to deal with this.

"We believe this strikes the right balance and will put an end to the dark days when fundraisers would spread themselves out across Northumberland Street and accost people as they went about their daily business.

"We hope the public will agree with this approach while giving charities the chance to continue to raise money."

Mike Smith, head of external affairs at the IoF said the organisation had been working with Newcastle council over the past year.

"We are glad that they have moved away from a disproportionate total ban towards these more measured proposals," he said.

But he added: "We strongly feel that site-management agreements are a better way to more effectively manage street fundraising, working in collaboration with charities and in a way that doesn’t bring extra costs and administration to the council or local services."

Under SMAs, which are currently operating in 126 other local authorities, the IoF administers and enforce the agreement, rather than the council. According to the IoF, 90 per cent of councils with an SMA would recommend one to other local authorities.

Smith said: "We are in regular contact with Newcastle council as these new measures are introduced, and will continue to work with the council on behalf of charity fundraisers raising money for vital causes."

Newport City Council in Wales, Swindon Borough Council in Wiltshire and Kettering Borough Council in Northamptonshire have all introduced PSPOs in the past two years.

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