Charity collections: 'A review is called for, not a clampdown'

EVEN though he has clearly been breaking the rules, it is hard not to have sympathy for veteran charity collector Tom Gilzean.

All he has been doing is raising money for good causes and he has letters of thanks for the thousands of pounds he has given to the likes of the Sick Kids and Cash for Kids.

But when he tried to get his licence renewed by the city council, he found that he wasn't actually allowed to rattle his tin on the Royal Mile almost every day, even though he has become a fixture there, resplendent in his trademark kilt.

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Instead, he's been told he can only collect for five days a year and has been allocated a few days next August. He's been warned he may face legal action if he does more.

To be clear, the council officials who wrote to Tom, 90, were only spelling out the law to him, and the threat of action was undoubtedly a pro forma inclusion.

What's more, the authorities do have a duty to use licences to protect the public, from both fake collectors and also the genuine ones who make their pitches too strongly or too often.

As Tom Campbell, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, said last year, most people would be happy if the council came down harder on some - the "chuggers" paid to get direct debits for charity.

But even if the letter of the law is being applied, there is clearly something wrong if the likes of Tom Gilzean cannot do their bit for good local causes.

A review is called for, not a clampdown on those who give their own time for needy others.

Counting coppers

IT will surprise many readers that in this supposed age of public sector cuts, policemen can still almost double their salaries with overtime.

The Lothian and Borders force is facing a 20 per cent cut in funding over the next five years and has warned of massive cuts in civilian staff, and has offered sabbaticals to front line officers.

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But crime not only still has to be cracked, Edinburgh's role as a Capital means police sometimes face extraordinary jobs, like this year's papal visit and protests at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

That work cannot stop, despite the cuts, and that is why we may see more rather than less lucrative overtime for officers. But the Scottish and UK governments should shoulder more of that burden, rather than the local force.