Policy on door to door charity collections in the Bognor Regis area to be revised

A strict policy to control door to door charity collections around Bognor Regis is being revised after fears it could be illegal.

A suggested way of ensuring residents benefited from the proper regulation of the collectors has been shelved.

Arun District Council’s licensing and enforcement committee agreed to a small group of its members looking at the issue with their licensing officer, Peter Francis.

He said: “We need to have a policy because we need to be consistent in the way we grant applications.

“The charities are looking for less regulation and other people are looking for more. We are stuck in the middle.”

Barbara Oakley, a committee member, said: “We are more concerned about protecting the public from being signed up by people asking for money for ever.”

The committee’s decision last Friday followed a consultation into the draft policy by Mr Francis. This reflected the unease from councillors about cold calling charity collectors being able to use direct debit mandates for donors.

ADC believes such collections offer increased opportunities for unscrupulous behaviour,’ it stated. These included the potential for crime, identity theft and putting pressure on vulnerable people.

But the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association mentioning such behaviour was misleading and unethical.

It suggested the council would be acting outside its powers if it adopted the policy.

“The thing that concerns me about this issue,” said Mr Francis, “is that one day somebody is going to make an application which is refused by the committee.

“The right of appeal is to the secretary of state. My experience when this happens is that they tend to be slightly more liberal than you would like and lower the bar.

“That would set the benchmark by which we would be advised to judge all future applications.” He said many national charities were exempt from licences for door to door collections.

Mr Francis said street charity collectors using direct debits were treated differently legally.