Councillors quit over Royal wedding homeless row

Two councillors have quit their local Conservative group in protest at their leader’s call for rough sleepers to be cleared from Windsor ahead of Prince Harry’s wedding in May.

Asghar Majeed and Paul Brimacombe have left the Tory group within the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead following the row.

On Monday night, council leader Simon Dudley survived a vote of no confidence at a private meeting of Conservative councillors.

According to the Maidenhead Advertiser, seven councillors voted in favour of the motion but 26 were needed for it to pass.

Simon Dudley

Image: Council leader Simon Dudley says there is an ‘epidemic’ of rough sleeping in Windsor

After the meeting, both Mr Majeed and Mr Brimacombe announced they could not continue to back Mr Dudley and said they will instead now serve as independent Conservative councillors.

In a joint statement, they said: “Immediately following the announcement of the result of the no-confidence vote, Cllr Majeed and Cllr Brimacombe resigned from the Conservative Group and departed the meeting.

“It was not considered appropriate by them to wholeheartedly disagree with the will of group on this fundamental issue and yet to remain within the group.

“With the departure of the last of the few dissenting voices within the Conservative group possibly an even more cohesive and purposeful Conservative group will emerge.”

They will continue to represent the residents of Oldfield and Cox Green as independent Conservative councillors, “with the same core values upon which they were elected”, the statement said.

Rough sleeper in Windsor

Image: Homeless charities reacted with anger to Mr Dudley’s comments

At the beginning of this month, Mr Dudley sent a letter to Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfield expressing his concerns about “aggressive begging” in Windsor.

The Berkshire town will host Prince Harry’s wedding to actress Meghan Markle on 19 May.

In the letter, copied to the Prime Minister, Mr Dudley claimed there was evidence “a large number of adults that are begging in Windsor are not in fact homeless”, while some were sleeping rough as a “voluntary choice”, he said.

Citing Windsor’s “national importance” and the upcoming Royal wedding, Mr Dudley urged police to consider anti-social behaviour orders to deal with the “totally unacceptable” situation.

St George's Chapel is seen as a likely option

Image: St George’s Chapel will host the Royal Wedding in May

The letter followed tweets sent by Mr Dudley in which he suggested there was “an epidemic of rough sleeping and vagrancy” in Windsor and revealed he would be writing to police “asking them to focus on dealing with this” before the Royal wedding.

Mr Dudley’s letter and Twitter post sparked anger from a local homeless charity, which condemned his “sickening” remarks.

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At the time, Theresa May, who is MP for Maidenhead, said she did not agree with the local council leader.

“I think it is important that councils work hard to ensure that they are providing accommodation for those people who are homeless, and where there are issues of people who are aggressively begging on the streets then it’s important that councils work with the police to deal with that aggressive begging,” she said.