Newcastle Council has become one of only a handful of UK local authorities to issue a Public Space Protection Order in relation to charity face-to-face fundraising, despite the efforts of the IoF.
The Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), which was originally agreed by the council in April last year but came into force two days ago, restricts the times, days and number of fundraisers, as well as the space in which they can operate within the city. Failure to adhere to the PSPO’s set rules will result in fines for the fundraisers.
The council, which originally wanted to implement a blanket ban on street fundraising activity in the city, has called the PSPO a “proportionate response” to an activity that “has caused nuisance and annoyance to people” in the past.
Nick Kemp, cabinet member for regulation at the council, 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. Rather than banning it outright we have sought to take a proportionate response allowing fundraising in strictly designated areas and only on certain days.
“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.”
The council also confirmed the PSPO would be reviewed after three years.
The PSPO stipulates that no more than two fundraisers will be allowed to operate on any given day, and that they must stay within an 8ft by 3ft area measured out on the ground. Failure to stay in this zone would result in a £100 fine, although there are some exemptions.
IoF 'strongly feel' SMA would have been better
A spokesman for the Institute of Fundraising, said the membership body had been working with the council for over a year, but had been unable to persuade the council to sign up to a Site Management Agreement (SMA). However he said the membership body was pleased the council had moved away from a total ban on fundraising.
Mike Smith, head of external affairs at the IoF, said: “We’ve been working over the last year with Newcastle council and are glad that they have moved away from a disproportionate total ban, towards these more measured proposals.
“We strongly feel that Site Management Agreements (SMAs) 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. 90 per cent of councils with an SMA would recommend one to other local authorities.”
Under an SMA, the IoF’s compliance department would administer and enforce the agreement, rather than the local authority. The IoF currently has over 120 such SMAs in place with other local authorities across the United Kingdom.
Newcastle joins a more select group of local authorities, including Newport City Council in Wales and Kettering Borough Council in Northamptonshire, in opting for a PSPO to deal with the issue of street fundraising.