CHARITY collectors have been banned from operating in Burnley town centre for five days each week.

Under a new agreement the collectors, known as chuggers, will only be allowed to work on Tuesday and Thursday, and in much reduced numbers.

The move comes after complaints from town centre shoppers and traders about the number operating in the town and the negative impact they are said to have been having.

Some shoppers had stopped using St James Street, the main town centre street, because they were being repeatedly hassled by chuggers, traders claimed.

The ban has been welcomed by councillors and the Chamber of Trade, but one charity worker in the town said they should be banned completely.

Coun Charlie Briggs, the leader of Burnley Council, said: “Our first concern has been for shoppers and others using the town centre.

“We know a number of shoppers had started to avoid parts of St James Street, having been repeatedly approached by charity collectors operating in the area in the past.

“The council has proactively tackled this issue and come to this new agreement which will go a long way to deal with those issues.

“We’ve tried to find a balance between allowing charities to raise cash for worthy causes while at the same time preventing collectors being seen as a nuisance.”

The agreement has been drawn up with the help of the Public Fund Raising Association (PFRA), which has helped 41 other councils across the country draw up similar agreements, and is in talks with a further 18.

The agreement is voluntary but draws support from major charities working in the area.

Brian Hobbs, president of Burnley’s Chamber of Trade, said: “We have supported this agreement, we don’t mind them being in the town centre but having some control over them will be a big help.

“It will calm it down a bit, there is no legal way to stop them collecting so to have an agreement, which they support as well, is a great step in the right direction.”

As well as limiting chuggers to just two days a week, the agreement also has a clear set of guidelines for collectors to work within.

As part of the agreement there will be a maximum of two collectors operating in any one area and they will be required to wear formal ID badges and follow a code of conduct.

Peter Quinn, the chairman of Burnley-based volunteer group Charity Aid, said the agreement did not go far enough, and chuggers should be banned completely.

He said: “ A lot of people don’t realise that a lot of the money goes to the chuggers and the company they work for, not the charity itself.

“Money is being siphoned off which is intended for good causes. I think the charities feel they are competing for a street presence, but I don’t believe chuggers do any good for charities.

“There is no need for it.”

In Lancashire Chorley Council were the first to move to ban chuggers, but it is believed that Blackburn and Preston are now in talks with the PFRA to come to an agreement.

Dr Toby Ganley, the PFRA’s head of policy, said: “Charities rely on the voluntary support of the public to be able to provide services for their beneficiaries. But to secure this support, charities need to be able to ask for the public for donations.

“This agreement with Burnley balances the duty of charities, on behalf of their beneficiaries, to ask people for their support, with the rights of the public not to be put under undue pressure to give.”

Homeless charity Shelter was approached but refused to comment.