Stoke City Council invokes 1916 law on street fundraisers

PFRA prepares to challenge council's policy

The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association is preparing to challenge Stoke City Council's plans to restrict street fundraising activity under a law that is nearly 100 years old.

A draft version of the council's new policy, seen by Third Sector, quotes the Police, Factories, etc (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916 and says any charity wanting to collect money or direct debits on a street or in a public place must apply to the council for a permit.

The document says each charity will be allowed to carry out up to four collections a year in the area. Local organisations would be given priority over other charities, it says.

Mick Aldridge, chief executive of the PFRA, said several councils had tried to use the 1916 act, but lawyers had told him it should not be applied to direct debit collections. In Birmingham, he said, face-to-face fundraisers still did not collect any direct debit details because the council maintained that the 1916 act applied.

Charities and the PFRA did not challenge this because they did not want to provoke a hostile reaction and "open a can of worms", Aldridge said.

In other areas, such as Cornwall, he added, the PFRA had been able to persuade councils not to apply the 1916 act to direct debit street fundraisers. He said he hoped this would happen in Stoke.

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