Fury over call to move homeless for Royal wedding

A council boss has been criticised after asking police to clear rough sleepers from Windsor ahead of the Royal wedding.

Conservative councillor Simon Dudley said the presence of beggars on the streets of the town could present it in a “sadly unfavourable light” when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot.

Thousands of people are expected to descend on the Berkshire town for the wedding on 19 May.

Mr Dudley, leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead unitary authority, wrote on Twitter that some rough sleepers had made a “commercial life choice praying on residents and tourists”.

Prince Harry poses with Meghan Markle

Image: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will wed on 19 May

And in a letter to Thames Valley Police he complained about “aggressive begging and intimidation” as well as “bags and detritus” on the streets.

The council leader claimed on Twitter over Christmas that there was “an epidemic of rough sleeping and vagrancy” in Windsor and called on police to “focus on dealing with this before the #RoyalWedding”.

But his stance has provoked outrage, with a local homeless charity describing Mr Dudley’s remarks as “sickening”.

Murphy James from the Windsor Homeless Project, said: “It’s absolutely abhorrent that anybody has got these views in this day and age, especially a lead councillor of the borough.

“If somebody is sleeping out on the street, they are not there by choice, they are there because something has gone wrong.”

The interior of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle

Image: The interior of St George’s Chapel

Mr James said it was “sickening” that the councillor had cited the Royal wedding to back up his comments.

The police responded to Mr Dudley’s tweets by saying: “We need to protect the most vulnerable in society by working together but each agency must understand its own unique responsibilities.

“Housing is the responsibility of the council but it is better that agencies work together so people don’t become homeless.

“We deal with reports of begging proportionately but we have not had reports of anyone being marched to cashpoints to take out money.”

As well as his public calls for action on Twitter, Mr Dudley wrote to Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley Police on Tuesday.

Homelessness is worse than its ever been

Image: Mr Dudley said some rough sleepers had made a ‘commercial life choice’

In the letter, he said officers should use powers under the 1824 Vagrancy Act and the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to “protect residents and tourists”.

Mr Stansfeld said he was “somewhat surprised” the letter had been made public before it had been sent directly to him.

“I myself attended a Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council in October and these issues were not raised,” he said.

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“I will of course provide Cllr Dudley with a full response addressing his concerns once I have received the letter and investigated further the issues he has raised.”

He added: “Protecting the public is of the utmost importance to both myself and Thames Valley Police and the force work day in and day out to keep people safe from harm and make the Thames Valley a safe place to live, work and visit.”