Street fundraising ban unites main parties

Anti-chugging legislation looks certain soon after election

Street fundraising
Street fundraising

Legislation to ban street fundraising in England and Wales now seems certain to be put before Parliament soon after the general election, regardless of which political party comes to power.

A cross-party consensus was hammered out between the three main parties earlier this week after Labour and the Tories became involved in a race to be the first to announce the policy.

It is understood that Angela Smith, Minister for the Third Sector, got wind last weekend of a Conservative plan to include the proposal in yesterday's policy document, Building a Big Society.

The Tories had been prompted to include the pledge by the huge growth in the number of signatories, including most MPs, to an "End Chugging Now" e-petition, launched last week by a group of Conservative councillors.

Smith's aides have also been monitoring the petition and let it be known that the Government would announce an anti-chugging policy a day before the Tories and then accuse them of "playing catch-up".

The row was settled with the compromise that the proposal would be pulled from the Tory document and both parties would commit to anti-chugging legislation. The Lib Dems joined in on a ‘me-too' basis.

The popularity of the councillors' campaign has hardened the mood among politicians previously sympathetic to street fundraising. One MP, who asked not to be named, said: "Chugging will soon be over and charities had better get used to it."

A source close to Smith told Third Sector: "The feeling on this is unanimous - there's no going back. Everyone knows this is a vote-winner."

The group of councillors has started a Facebook group, We All Hate Chuggers, that has attracted more than 30,000 members already. James Cousins, a councillor in the London Borough of Wandworth and an anti-chugging campaigner, told Third Sector: "All this is great news for Balham and for pedestrians everywhere."

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