To introduce and seek adoption of the Council’s proposed House to House Collection Policy for the Chichester district.
Mr Knowles-Ley introduced the item, and Miss Guidici who had produced the report and was attending the committee for the first time. He explained that ‘House to House Collections’ refer to both the collection of money, unwanted property and the sale of goods where any part of the proceeds may go to charity, for which a licence granted by the Council is required. The Council has not previously had a House to House Collections Policy and therefore has relied upon the basic statutory controls to refuse or revoke a licence, which are open to interpretation. Without a policy in place it is difficult to refuse a licence, and doing so leaves the Council open to challenge.
Mr Knowles-Ley further explained that in 2018 the Council as Licensing Authority had received complaints regarding unlicensed collections within the district. A number of recent licensed collections had also resulted in a low percentage of the proceeds from the collections being passed to charities with an example of just 15% being cited. Adopting a local policy as a framework for administration and enforcement will provide a number of benefits including restricting the number of collections, stipulating the percentage of the proceeds given to the relevant charity (minimum 70%) and ensuring applicants provide evidence that they are ‘fit and proper’ via a criminal record check. Putting such measures in place will provide reassurance to the public.
The Chairman queried that this did not apply to major charities which are not required to obtain a licence, but local organisations only, which was confirmed as correct by Mr Knowles-Ley where the charity is a holder of a national exemption order issued by the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport. In response to further questions from members of the committee Mr Knowles-Ley confirmed that collections for local jumble sales would require a licence where the unwanted property is being collected door to door. Mr Knowles-Ley acknowledged the committees support regarding the threshold of a minimum percentage of proceeds to charities, explaining that this information would be confirmed via the application process. Mr Foord further confirmed that the proposed policy would protect the public, deter less scrupulous applicants and allow greater monitoring of this activity. Mr Knowles-Ley also explained that timings around national charity collections could be more easily controlled and therefore, potentially ensure more successful collections. Mr Knowles-Ley confirmed that information regarding collections can be found via the Council website.
Members asked if special situations could be considered, for example collecting unwanted items for environmental purposes? Mr Knowles-Ley agreed that this could be included within the policy.
In response to Members asking questions regarding what could be done to limit the excessive numbers of collection bags received, Mr Foord responded that consideration was also being given to working with West Sussex County Council Trading Standards.
Members of the committee expressed concerns about the collection bags which are made of single-use plastic and the Chairman requested that an update regarding plastic is brought back to the committee in six-months-time. Mr Bennett responded that Mr Buckley is leading work within the Council regarding single-use plastic and suggested that twelve-months-time, may be more appropriate. Mr Knowles-Ley advised that the letter sent when granting a licence could be amended to encourage use of bio-degradable bags and the collection of unused bags from doorsteps. Members supported this proposal.
In response to questions regarding the major charities which may collect without a licence granted by the Council, Mr Knowles-Ley confirmed a link to the appropriate Government website providing information about such charities could be added to the Council website.
Mr Foord thanked members for bringing the issue of plastic bags to the officers’ attention, as this had not been previously considered.
That the House to House Collections Policy is amended to include ‘collections for environmental purposes’, and adopted.