- The leader of Windsor council has written to the police asking them to remove homeless people ahead of the royal wedding.
- Simon Dudley, a Conservative said that rough sleepers and beggars create a "hostile environment" for tourists.
- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are due to be married in Windsor on May 19, 2018.
On May 19, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be married at a highly anticipated ceremony in Windsor — and the Conservative leader of the local council is calling on the police to remove homeless people before it takes place.
In a letter published by The Windsor Express, Royal Borough of Windows and Maidenhead leader Simon Dudley asked Thames Valley police to crack down on people begging and sleeping on the streets in the area, arguing that it creates a "hostile environment" and is a security risk.
"A significant number of the adults chose not to turn up and use the accommodation that we had purchased for them, instead choosing to remain on the street begging. This is creating a concerning and hostile atmosphere for our residents and the seven million tourists who come to Windsor each year," Dudley wrote.
He asserted homeless for some is a "voluntary choice." When tourists descend on the town for the wedding later in 2018 these people could, he worried, present the town in a "sadly unfavourable light."
He wrote: "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. As Leader of the Royal Borough this situation is totally unacceptable to me and my fellow councillors."
In a response also published by The Windsor Express, police and crime commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said he was "surprised" that the letter "has been released publicly but not yet been sent directly to me."
"Supporting the vulnerable, including the homeless, is a priority within my Police and Crime Plan and I have previously provided funding to homeless shelters in Berkshire," he wrote.
"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."
A homelessness activist also challenged the claim that people were homeless in Windsor by choice.
Speaking to The Guardian, Murphy James, who works for the Windsor Homelessness Project, said: "For someone to ask for loose change, your self-esteem is at its lowest. No one does this from choice. We shouldn’t be demonising these people but asking them what we can do to help."
In December, prior to sending the letter, Dudley tweeted that "sadly there is an epidemic of rough sleeping and vagrancy in [Windsor]," and that he would be writing to the police to ask them "to focous on dealing with this before the [Royal Wedding."
Sadly there is an epidemic of rough sleeping and vagrancy in #Windsor@RBWM. I will be writing to @StansfeldPCC copying @TVP_Chief@Bhupinderrai70 at @ThamesVP@TVP_Windsor asking for them to focus on dealing with this before the #RoyalWedding
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