Lepper calls PFRA 'ineffective' as chugging debate continues

Helen Barrett

Labour MP David Lepper has branded the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association "ineffective" in the continuing dispute over chugging in Brighton.

The PFRA has responded by asserting that it is "robust and effective" and saying Lepper's complaints are "completely unreasonable".

Lepper has called for a mandatory code of conduct for street fundraisers.

He told Third Sector this week that his constituents in Brighton Pavilion found face-to-face fundraisers rude and intimidating.

Lepper also alleged that chuggers had prevented people from entering shops by congregating in doorways, particularly in the narrow North Laines area.

"The regularity of complaints from traders and the public points to the ineffectiveness of the PFRA," said Lepper, who presented a 200-signature petition against chuggers to Parliament in 2005.

He added that he doubted whether the new Fundraising Standards Board would make a difference. "I'm willing to give the FSB a try," he said.

"But attempts at self-regulation conducted by the PFRA leave me sceptical about whether it can work and wondering if we need mandatory regulation."

Lepper said that other MPs had told him of similar problems occurring in their constituencies.

The PFRA said it had voluntarily reduced street fundraising in the city by 66 per cent since 2004 in response to the complaints.

It claimed that local traders' demands had been unreasonably restrictive, which had prevented it from establishing a site management agreement with the local authority that charities could work to.

"We have written again to Mr Lepper to explain our view that his complaints about face-to-face fundraising are completely unreasonable, and to reassure him that the PFRA's self-regulation continues to be robust and effective," said Nik Earl, communications manager at the organisation.

KEY POINTS

- The level of street fundraising occurring in Brighton has been reduced by 66 per cent over the past two years after Brighton Pavilion MP David Lepper said chuggers were a nuisance

- He claims that the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association is unable to tackle the problem and doubts whether the proposed Fundraising Standards Board will make a difference

- The PFRA says Lepper's complaints are unjustified.

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