Windsor council leader Simon Dudley has called on police to clear the streets of rough sleepers and beggars ahead of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in May. His comments were branded “disgusting.”
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead councillor wrote to Thames Valley police on January 2. The letter called on authorities to enforce legislation stipulating that rough sleepers be removed from the area ahead of the royal wedding.
He called homelessness an “epidemic” in a recent tweet.
In the letter addressed to the police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfield, the councillor outlines all the services offered to vulnerable residents in the town. They include a round-the-year emergency night shelter, a drug and alcohol abuse service, as well as mental health support.
The Conservative council leader issued the warning as tens of thousands of royalits are expected to flock to Windsor to see Prince Harry marry American TV reality star Meghan Markle.
They are due to tie the knot on May 19 in St George’s chapel at Windsor Castle, the Queen’s main weekend residence, which dates back to the 11th century.
“Homelessness is completely unacceptable in a compassionate community such as ours,” the councilor wrote, which was also sent to Prime Minister Theresa May and Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
But he adds that a “large number of adults that are begging in Windsor are not in fact homeless, and if they are homeless they are choosing to reject all support services …
“In the case of homelessness amongst this group, it is therefore a voluntary choice.”
Dudley also raised concerns about “the quantities of bags and detritus that those begging are accumulating and leaving on our pavements, at times unattended… This is a significant security concern, especially given the national importance of Windsor.
“Obviously, the level of tourist interest is set to multiply with the Royal Wedding in May 2018, and there are increased concerns from our residents about their safety. The whole situation also presents a beautiful town in a sadly unfavourable light.”
Wisdom Da Costa, an independent councillor, said he disagreed with Dudley’s approach, according to the Guardian.
“I don’t believe banging them [homeless people] up is the right thing to do,” he said.
“What we need is a multi-agency approach, and that means putting money behind an effort to get people off the streets and dealing with the issues.”
The comments were unsurprisingly met with fierce criticism, with Windsor Homeless Project manager, Murphy James, branding the comments “disgusting.”
Others took to Twitter to express dismay, with one pleading with Dudley to show more “compassion.”
Oh yes can’t possibly have the royal family see the reality of life for some people can we!
— Vickie (@Stepqueen101) December 29, 2017
Another tweeter accused the councillor of dealing with homelessness only now that a royal wedding is planned.
Why not address it because there is a need, rather than just because of the wedding. RBWM has ignored this issue for ages .
— David Cannon (@davidpcannon) December 28, 2017