Poppy appeal at risk in Luton
A collector for the Poppy Appeal says he will be unable to sell poppies in The Mall in Luton this year due to his free parking being taken away.
Colonel John Hamilton has sold poppies in the shopping centre for ten years, and raised £8,000 from the collection last year for the Royal British Legion.
He is unable to pay for daily parking, and without Colonel Hamilton’s work, there may be no poppies on sale in The Mall when the appeal starts tomorrow (October 27).
Colonel Hamilton said: “I have never been denied parking before. I used to park at the University of Bedfordshire but they changed their car parks so for the last couple of years I’ve parked at The Mall. This year the new manager, Mark Broadhead, told me he couldn’t offer me free parking space as they don’t allow any other charities to park there freely. If he thinks The British Legion Poppy Appeal is the same as all the other charities in the country he is sadly mistaken. It’s the greatest and most important appeal there is.”
The Colonel said he needs to park close to The Mall so he can carry all his collecting tins from his car easily, and store the money safely.
He said he has been trying to find alternative places to sell the poppies, but The Mall has the greatest footfall and he fears other locations won’t prove as fruitful for his collection.
A spokesperson for The Mall Luton said: “It has never been a policy of The Mall to supply charitable organisations with free parking. Last year, the gentleman in question did receive free parking but it is unclear how this arrangement was agreed and with whom.
“At The Mall Luton, we do our utmost to help and support all charitable organisations, whether they are local or national, with their fundraising efforts. This year alone we will be working with 20 different charities hoping to raise in excess of £25,000. We are committed to continuing with this help and assistance. This is in addition to the help and support we offer, and will continue to offer, various community groups and charities within the wider community.”
A spokesperson for the University of Bedfordshire said they would be happy to come to some arrangement to provide Colonel Hamilton with parking for the duration of the Poppy Appeal.
The spokesperson said: “Who in their right mind does not support the Poppy Appeal? It’s so important for our Armed Forces. We would be quite happy to offer Colonel Hamilton a parking space if he would like it.”
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Weather for Luton
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 9 C
Wind Speed: 29 mph
Wind direction: North
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