Charity collectors may be moved out of a busy shopping street in Hove if they pester people too much.
Council chiefs may even use a by-law to ban them if talks fail to improve relations between the chuggers – or charity muggers – and shoppers and traders in George Street, Hove.
The problem was raised at a Brighton and Hove City Council meeting by Conservative member Andrew Wealls.
The Central Hove councillor told the council’s Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities and Equalities Committee that it was “a big problem” and caused “a tremendous amount of distress”.
Councillor Wealls won the support of colleagues for tougher measures when he addressed the committee at Hove Town Hall yesterday (Monday 3 December).
Traders shared their concerns with him and fellow ward councillor Clare Moonan, a Labour member.
They said that the charity workers approaching people in the street were putting people off coming to the area and upsetting vulnerable people.
Councillor Wealls said: “When it was first brought to my attention, I didn’t realise it was that big a problem. Now I understand what a big problem it is.
“I have spoken to many of the traders and the charity shops where they have volunteers from vulnerable groups.
“Part of the challenge is the interaction with the volunteers, as the charities are essentially mugging them to donate to charity, causing a tremendous amount of distress.
“A lot of the time people do not have the confidence to not engage with a charity mugger.
“We walk past, but there are people who do not have that confidence. It is a problem many of us do not recognise.”
Councillor Wealls said that restricting charities to a smaller one-metre to two-metre area with a stand would help to resolve the problem.
Councillor Moonan agreed and said: “I have spoken to traders about how distressing it is.
“I regularly go up there and do get approached by chuggers. One is enough then you get a second and a third.
“Hopefully we have a solution to this problem.”
The committee agreed unanimously to negotiate a new agreement with the Institute of Fundraising, the professional membership body for charitable fundraising.
The institute works with councils to create site management agreements that set controls on when and where fundraising can take place
Its members are expected to stick to the agreements and are subject to spot checks.
Conservative councillor Ann Norman said that if the talks failed then the committee should consider bringing in a by-law for George Street – or a “public space protection order” which would give police the power to order chuggers to leave.
Her suggestion was also backed by the committee.