Windsor Councillor urges police to remove homeless before the royal wedding

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Simon Dudley’s letter

The Conservative leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has written a letter to the police demanding use of legal force to rid the streets of homeless people before the upcoming royal wedding.

In the three page letter, Councillor Simon Dudley expressed disgust at what he described as ‘aggressive begging’ and ‘bags and detritus’ on the streets of Windsor.

Green party member Derek Wall – who debated with Dudley in the general election –  branded the Councillor a ‘heartless man’ and called for ‘protest at any suggestion of social cleansing’.

The letter follows earlier tweets from Dudley in which he deemed homelessness a ‘commercial life choice’, sent whilst on holiday in America over the Christmas period.

 The responce

In another tweet the Councillor wrote of ‘people marching tourists to cash points to withdraw cash’. The Thames Valley Police quickly  responded that they had received no such reports.

Dudley also alerted the police to several measures they may take such as enforcing ‘current laws on vagrancy (The Vagrancy Act 1824) or the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, including implementing Criminal Behaviour Orders for the numerous offenders’. However Windsor Police tweeted “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.”

The reaction on twitter was largely one of anger with people calling the Councillor an ’embarrassment’.

It was also pointed out that some of the homeless in Windsor could well have been ex-servicemen.

What charities had to say

The letter goes on to state ‘In the Royal Borough we believe homelessness is completely unacceptable in a caring, compassionate community such as ours.’ Before then suggesting that the driving force behind the letter is fear that when tourists flock to Windsor for the wedding in May, the presence of homeless people will present the town in a ‘sadly unfavourable light’.

The rhetoric implying that homeless people are an eyesore and there by choice can be extremely damaging and has been condemned by a number of Homelessness charities.

In a lengthy Facebook post Murphy James of the Windsor Homelessness project stated ‘vilifying the vulnerable is not the answer. Harping back to 1824 is not the answer’. James questioned how the borough could have a Councillor who holds ‘vile’ and ‘archaic’ views and thanked the police for showing ‘empathy and humanity to a temperamental situation’.

The letter comes just weeks after the Prime Minister herself was accused of ‘callousness’ regarding the issue of children who are homeless over Christmas when questioned by MP Rosena Allin-Khans. The PM was additionally under fire for apparently providing ‘misleading’ figures on the level of homelessness under her government.

Homeless charity Shelter provided a thread on what to do if you encounter anyone sleeping rough this winter and want to offer immediate help:

Homelessness and the charity sector

There are so many charities doing fantastic work to support the homeless community. Herts Young Homeless is one of the charities we chose to support this year and you can read more about the wonderful and vital work they do to support young people facing homelessness here.

If you would like to learn more about homelessness in Windsor or give directly to support rough sleepers then visit the website for the Windsor Homelessness Project.

Other charities that provide great support are:

Shelter – The UK’s largest housing and homelessness charity.

Crisis –  The national charity for single homeless people.

And of course you can always donate to your local food bank.

In the interest of balance, Dudley does claim in his letter that there are a large number of adult beggars in the town that are not in fact homeless. The Thames Valley Police stated that they investigate the matter.

Read the letter in full here.

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