I'm not suggesting that the people of Sidmouth are dummies - far from it. But someone has kicked up a fuss because of the two dummies there, dressed up as lifeboatmen and who have buckets attached so anyone can make donations. They are known as Sid and Alma. It seems that the complainant's point is that the lifeboat service in Sidmouth does not have a collection permit and is therefore contravening a bylaw.
We are not talking about real people rattling collection tins here in which case no doubt a permit would be required. Effectively these dummies are just the same as charity boxes in pubs and shops the difference being that they are much more eyecatching.
In passing it's worth noting that the Sidmouth Lifeboat service is independent of the RNLI. It has an inflatable boat with a crew of 4. Earlier in the year it had a successful flagday. East Devon District Council are unlikely to pursue the service for a permit I would have thought.
I hope that this person who has seen fit to complain watches BBC2 this Tuesday evening: there is a documentary about the loss of the Penlee lifeboat Solomon Browne and the coaster Union Star and their crews off the coast of Cornwall. In memory of that dark December night they switch off the famous Mousehole Christmas Lights on that particular anniversary evening. (It happened on 19 December 1981).