Birmingham City Council has announced that it is considering working with the PFRA to co-regulate street face-to-face fundraising in the UK’s second city.
Birmingham council has until now always refused to talk to the PFRA about co-regulation. However, speaking to the Birmingham Post newspaper as the city launches a public consultation into street fundraising, Jacqui Kennedy, the council’s head of regulatory services, said that working with the PFRA was now an option.
“We want to have conversation with the parties involved and find a solution if one is needed,” Ms Kennedy told the newspaper. “We have to remember they are doing nothing illegal and we have no power to stop them, so we need to get a consensus of opinion before we can move forward.”
Dr Toby Ganley, PFRA's head of policy, has welcomed the announcement: “We’ve been trying to talk to Birmingham for some time to offer a solution of the type that works well for many other UK city centres.
“We are delighted to see the Ms Kennedy has said she wants to get the right balance between supporting good causes and the needs of the public because that is exactly what we offer though our site agreements.”
Along with Retail Birmingham, the business improvement district (BID), the city council is launching a public consultation into street fundraising because it says it has received an “increasing number” of complaints.
“The ironic thing is that if the council and Retail Birmingham had decided to work with us last year or even earlier, as they could have done, they would probably get far fewer complaints than the claim to get now.”
Council officials and town centre managers at towns that already operate a PFRA site agreement report that complaints fall and professional standards improve once a site agreement is put in place.
Clint Jones, the town centre manager for Plymouth, says: “I’m very satisfied with the regime we have agreed with the PFRA. Since this has been implemented, complaints about street fundraisers have dramatically reduced.”
And Brenda Arthur, the leader of Norwich City Council, which commenced a site agreement in February 2011, told the Norwich Evening News last week: “We used to have problems and lots of complaints, but then last year we entered into a site management agreement with PFRA to set out where and when street fundraisers can work in Norwich. Since then, we have only had a couple of complaints compared with 300 before.”Tweet