VIDEO: Star the fundraising duck 'banned' from town centres
A CELEBRITY duck and his owner who collect money for a charity have been told they are not welcome on North Devon's high streets, unless they apply for a street collector's licence.
In May the Journal reported on the problems Barrie Hayman, Star the duck's owner, was having with North Devon Council, after it told him he needed to apply for a permit every time he wished to collect money for Children's Hospice South West.
At the time, the council said the permits were necessary to prevent con artists holding fraudulent collections.
But Barrie paid no heed to the council's warning and has continued to collect money for the hospice in Barnstaple, Bideford, South Molton, Tiverton and many other locations.
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As a result he was asked to meet with council representatives on Friday, and representatives from Torridge District Council and Mid Devon District Council.
Speaking for all three councils Katy Nicholls, North Devon Council's licensing manager, said: "While we applaud Mr Hayman's fundraising efforts he still needs a street collection permit.
"The permits are not council policy but are required by law and are necessary to ensure only bona fide organisations are collecting.
"We met Mr Hayman to try and resolve these issues and find a sensible way forward.
"During this meeting, and on previous occasions, we have explained the permit process to Mr Hayman and invited him to apply for a permit using our simple, free of charge process, but he has so far refused."
Barrie, who collects in his spare time, only decides if he will collect each morning depending on the weather.
As such, he said he could not possibly plan ahead and apply for a licence for a specific day.
He said: "I don't understand why the councils want to do this. There's something strange going on.
"They say they've had complaints from other charities that it's not fair for me to collect on the street, but no other charity does the same so I don't see how that's true."
VIDEO: Barrie with Star the Duck:
North Devon Council said it had received a complaint from another charity which was collecting when Barrie turned up in the same area to collect without a permit.
Barrie said: "Stopping me collecting is cruel to the children at the hospice, cruel to the children who love seeing Star out and about and cruel to the duck, who loves doing this."
Alana Marie Smith, director of fundraising at the hospice, said: "Barrie Hayman and Star are tremendous in their fundraising efforts for the hospice, and in their wonderful support of the sick children at Little Bridge House.
"However, Children's Hospice South West fully accepts the need for all our supporters to raise funds within the associated legal requirements."
Barrie is not prepared to take the news lying down.
"I'm getting on my soap box and telling people all about this, because it's not right," he said.
Many people in North Devon aren't happy with the news.
Sally Shepherd, who works at Blazey's of Bideford, has set up an online petition in support of Barrie.
"I'm absolutely gutted at the news," she said. "He does such a good thing for a local charity and it makes me sad that he's been told he can't collect anymore. I don't agree with it."
To sign Sally's petition visit www.chn.ge/QaSpKX.
Patricia Hall, 80, said: "Star is such a dear little thing, and Barrie is so kind to him.
"I just don't understand why he can' collect money for the children."