Chugging in Birmingham – a little datablog, and a word with the City Council

It’s strange that charities don’t realise the damage they are doing to their reputations, and that councils don’t do more to stop them, but Chuggers – charity muggers – are becoming a major nuisance on our streets.

Hand me a petition, and maybe I’ll sign it, many of the causes represented are worthy of our support. But this is getting silly – so I thought I’d take a look at the data.

For five days in June I walked through Birmingham City Centre and counted the Chuggers. This map is is the result.  All in all, I counted53 Chuggers gracing Birmingham City Centre between the 17 and the 21 June.

Now the Birmingham Mail has reported Birmingham City Council’s attempts to stop Chuggers. Search the Mails site and you’ll find stories such as this. The latest report says the process may have hit a snag – and blames the PFRA “.a self-regulatory body funded by 26 members, the majority of which are national charities.

“It imposes a ‘three-step’ rule under which collectors are required to give up pursuing a target pedestrian after three steps, and must under no circumstances obstruct the way. But it does not rule out a series of approaches from different collectors working for the same company,” says the Mail.

Hmm…well I got in touch with the Council Press Office myself and asked for the progress of the proposed By-Law. Their response did not mention the PRSA, but they shared quite openly documents which talked about the legal problems faced defining chugging and chuggers.

The problem is that this is both a political gold mine, and a political mine-field. It’s easy for Councillors to say they will do something, but as always reality bites.  How do you tell the difference between someone taking one step, or taking two.  When is polite request to chat, not a polite request to chat. Define this legally, so it will stand up in court.

So this chap has come upon the wheeze of offering a handshake in friendship. Lovely, but now the only way of walking passed him is to be rude. Watching him and his colleagues for a few minutes, and yes I do have video, he is actually only preying upon people to polite, or confused to just keep walking.  In my opinion, this is wrong.

So, the Chuggers keep chugging with no relief in sight.  Birmingham City Council seems, for whatever reason, to be incapable of passing a by-law stopping them even thought this has been achieved to limited effect in other cities such as Newcastle.

Chuggers are lamented and condemned in every paper from the Independent to the Daily Mail – they are quite frankly, a blinking nuisance which seems to be effectively unmanagable

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