‘It’s a disgrace’: Stevenage Poppy Appeal organiser told Royal British Legion has to pay to collect at The Range

Stevenage Poppy Appeal organiser Richard Mott, pictured with his wife Pat, has condemned The Range's

Stevenage Poppy Appeal organiser Richard Mott, pictured with his wife Pat, has condemned The Range's decision to charge charities. - Credit: Archant

A Poppy Appeal organiser has slammed a retail store’s decision to charge charities for collecting in its shops, labelling the firm a disgrace.

Richard Mott, who runs the Stevenage Poppy Appeal with his wife Pat, contacted the Comet after being told by representatives of The Range that the town’s Royal British Legion branch would be charged £300 for collecting at the Monkswood Way store for a 12-month period.

The Legion has been able to have collection tins on display at the home, leisure and garden chain’s Stevenage branch for the past three years without being charged, but Mr Mott says an assistant manager he used to deal with has now left.

Collectors raised £2,000 while based at the store for five days during November’s appeal, helping the Legion reach its 2014 £100,000 target marking the centenary anniversary of the First World War.

Mr Mott, of Meadow Way, said: “I think it’s wrong that charities have to pay money that could be going to the cause. It’s unbelievable.

“If all companies started doing that where would that leave us?

“We’ve never been charged before. To make money from a charity is disgraceful.”

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The Range said charging charities was introduced two years ago after the company found individuals were pretending to represent good causes or were part of a commercial operation, while some organisations themselves were not officially registered with the Charity Commission.

A spokesman said: “It became evident that booking requests would incur time and costs for vetting applications, checking validity and processing appropriate licences.

“To cover these costs, a charity rate was introduced, significantly lower than rates charged for commercial bookings.

“We are sad that after all the support the Royal British Legion has had from stores in The Range portfolio they felt the need to question the internal operations within the stores and wish them well with their future fundraising.”

The chain is reviewing whether to continue with cash collections as a result of customer feedback.

To make a donation to the Legion visit www.britishlegion.org.