Business leader calls for ban on town ‘chuggers’

This shot shows the area outside Thorntons in Bury St Edmunds town centre where chuggers stop the public for charity sign ups. ''FL;
This shot shows the area outside Thorntons in Bury St Edmunds town centre where chuggers stop the public for charity sign ups. ''FL;
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A business leader is calling for a ban on the use of ‘chuggers’ in Bury St Edmunds to protect the town’s businesses.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of town centre improvement organisation Bid4Bury, said the aggressive tactics of some charity face-to-face fund-raisers – known as ‘chuggers’ – was causing a nuisance to shoppers and damaging businesses.

He said while Bid businesses were ‘very supportive’ of charities, many did not approve of the methods used by chuggers, who recruit donors by obtaining their direct debit details and are not covered by the legislation that applies to fund-raisers collecting cash.

Darren Haywood, who owns a franchise in the Buttermarket, said he had noticed an increase in the frequency and quantity of ‘chuggers’ in recent years, and the number of shoppers who passed by quickly to avoid them.

He said: “They have become a bit of a nuisance, harassing shoppers and making the town feel a less welcoming place. People put their heads down to get by them and are probably not enjoying their shopping experience.”

He added: “I think Bury’s such a beautiful place and, in the long run, if you compare it to places that don’t have chuggers, it is detrimental and it will make Bury compare less favourably.”

To minimise the impact chugging could have on traders and other charity collections, St Edmundsbury asks chuggers to limit their presence in Bury to a maximum of six people during business hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and to notify its licensing service in advance.

“Anything that has a detrimental effect on those visiting isn’t good for the town. I think this type of collection should be banned from Bury altogether,” said Mr Cordell.

“I’d like to see us come up with a solution that works for the charities and the town,” said Mr Haywood.

Cllr Robert Everitt said: “If people do find they’re being put under pressure to sign their direct debits, St Edmundsbury would be keen to know who they are.”

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