THE decision to evict charities from clothes bank sites across Hertfordshire in favour of for-profit companies “will hurt charity shops that rely on the donations”.

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The Hertfordshire Waste Partnership (HWP) – which includes Stevenage Borough Council (SBC), North Herts District Council and Herts County Council – said the move was necessary in order to make money to preserve frontline services.

Private companies collect the public’s donated clothes, sell them for a profit and give a cut or fee to the partnership.

It is set to generate £2.4 million over a three-year period for the partnership.

Leader of SBC, Sharon Taylor, explained that there is an opportunity within the partnership for councils to act independently and that SBC has “no plans to evict five charity banks at our sites”.

Charities affected by the scheme include the British Heart Foundation - which has shops in Hitchin, Letchworth GC and Stevenage - and Scope - which has a shop in Letchworth GC.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope, said: “Councils are starting to evict charities from clothes bank sites and flog them off to private companies, who in turn sell on your clothes for a profit, and give a cut to the council.

“Make no mistake; this scheme will hurt charity shops that rely on the donations, the number of people charities like ours can work with, and shoppers on the high street.”

Retail director for the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Mike Lucas, added: “This current situation with councils and clothing banks is very disappointing.

“Clothing banks, when full, can be worth up to £1,000 each in sales.

“Companies working for commercial gain are a huge problem for charities with high street shops.

“I’d like to encourage people to take their donations directly into their local BHF shop.”

Hertfordshire and Northumberland are the first two counties in the country to hand over recycling bank sites used by charities to private companies.

A spokesman for HWP said: “Councils in Hertfordshire are having to look at all services with a view to maximising revenue and making savings to allow the preservation of frontline services. This means, in the case of recycling, that we have to take all opportunities to boost revenues, such as that provided by a textile consortium.

“The impact on local charities was considered from the outset, with authorities free not to participate in the consortium in the event that local concerns about charities overrode the need to find savings and/or extra income.

“All charities involved in providing textile banks prior to the tender were given a chance to participate in the procurement process.”

The idea of replacing charity clothes banks with private company ones is now being discussed by London Councils - an umbrella group representing London’s local authorities.

The Charity Retail Association, which supports charities running shops in the UK, has launched a campaign in a bid to make councils think twice. “We have been lobbying against the new scheme,” said a spokesman.

4 comments

  • This is theft. We drop off our unwanted clothes in these bins expecting them to go to charities... not for-profit companies. Making this change subverts the goodwill of those who believe they're donating to a good cause.

    Report this comment

    Yvan

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

  • I won't be giving anything in this manor, I would rather throw them out than give them to a "Business" so they in turn can line the never ending pockets of the council. Shame on you

    Report this comment

    Andy Capp

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

  • Patrick, the last time I looked Stevenage Borough Council is not run by Torys. Funny how our Labour mayor has nothing to say for her self on this disgraceful descision she has made! I also will not be recycling my clothes this way any more.

    Report this comment

    kaleef14

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012

  • Another Tory hit on charities who provide some front line services. How is it County found £4.3M to turn our street lights out and did not bat an eyelid when they lost £28M to Icelandic banks in 2008. They wont get £2.4M when the public realise their efforts are to pay for executive bonuses.

    Report this comment

    patrick newman

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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