Two hundred and fifty quid per person to distribute free literatue

Birmingham City Council have introduced an annual fee of £250 per person for any organisations wanting to distribute free literatue (free newspapers, leaflets, brochures, cards &c) in designated areas in the city centre, pretty much anywhere within the Queensways (see linked page for full list of roads and areas). This is billed as a step to reduce littering but could have a devastating impact on charities, unions, pressure groups and other cash strapped organisations who need to spread their message to raise awareness of important issues and/or the funds to do their work.

4 Comments so far

  1. Pete Ashton (unregistered) on August 25th, 2006 @ 5:23 pm

    Or it could actually reduce the stupid amount of litter left in the city centre and mean folk can walk down New Street without saying “No, No, No, No, No” with increased agitation.

    Sounds like a damn sensible idea to me. Next they should charge the clipboard wielders.

  2. Stephen Booth (unregistered) on August 25th, 2006 @ 7:26 pm

    I don’t find the people handing out leaflets or most of the clipboard people too much of a hassle. The Scientologists used to be a problem for me but I debated them so often (good old Socratic method) that, I’ve heard, they now have a photo of me in their base just off New St and are told to avoid me. The only group I really have issues with are the Hari Krisnas.

    Maybe this will reduce the litter on our streets, though I doubt it. I’m concerned that it’s a flat annual fee which means that the major offenders (e.g. the strip clubs and that free jobs ‘newspaper’) who are out every day pay the same as a small charity who leaflet twice a year.

    Fairer would be a system of leafleting permits, similar to street collection permits, that allow a designated area to be lefleted in a designated time period with preference given to groups who haven’t leafleted an area before/recently. So if both a charity, who only leaflet a couple of times a year, and one of the major offenders, who leaflet daily, want a particular pitch on a particular day the charity will get it as they haven’t leafleted there or nearby recently.

  3. GaZ (unregistered) on August 30th, 2006 @ 8:34 am

    Hooray! There are many other ways such groups can “share” their message without wasting so much paper which, 9 times out of 10, people are just going to leave lying around on the street anyway.

    But I also agree with Stephen in that the bigger offenders should be paying more than the small charities. Although I’m not sure how easy it would be to enfoce such a scheme as the one you suggest with designated times / pitches…

  4. Stephen Booth (unregistered) on August 30th, 2006 @ 8:53 am

    There’s already a system in place to handle enforcement of the designated times and pitches in most cities.

    Unless it’s changed since the last time I organised one, if you want to do a street collection (i.e. shaking collection tins on street corners) then you have to get a street collection permit for all the people involved. Most places permits are issued by a magistrates court, I believe in Birmingham the council handles it. To do this you supply information on who, where and when. Each collector is given a permit bearing their name, who they are collecting for, where they are collecting (typically it will decribe an area such as “New Street between junctions with Corporation street and Needless Alley”) and when. If it is for more than one day then it has to also have a passport sized photograph of them. Any police officer, traffic warden or council enforcement officer can ask to see their permit and ID. If they don’t have a permit, are using an out of date permit, are significantly out of their permitted area or don’t have ID that matches their permit then they can be arrested and imprisoned (potentially for fraud but more usually a public order offense like blocking the thoroughfare). Any member of the public can also ask to see their permit.

    Some organisations have a standing agreement with the local courts/council and have the right to issue permits themselves. The Big Issue being the one people are most familiar with.

    Something like that would work, I believe. Organisations that leaflet a lot could get monthly or longer permits whilst smaller organisations could get permits for just the days they want to distribute on. For charities this could be rolled into the street collection permit. A small administration charge plus a per diem for the duration of the permit would be fairer than a flat charge whether you want to leaflet for 2 days or 365 days a year.

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